ACF in Psychiatry - Old Age
Dr Simon Vann Jones (2015)
Pathway to an ACF
I first became interested in research during a cardiology SSC at Newcastle University. I liked the alternative way of thinking, the flatter hierarchy, the creativity and the thought that you could drive medical science forward. Above all, though, I found it fun.
My experience motivated me to apply for an Academic Foundation Programme. By this stage I was fairly set on a career in psychiatry and found dementia to be the area that appealed most. I gained experience working on trials and systematic reviews during this time, before applying to Oxford.
What does the work involve?
In my first ACF year I spent one day per week working on setting up my research project for a dedicated six-month block in the Department of Biochemistry in my CT2 year. This research day provided the time to meet people in a variety of research areas, to read, and to think about and plan my project.
As I write I am currently on my six-month block. This protected time has been invaluable in allowing me to acquire the skills necessary to work effectively and safely in a laboratory environment and to conduct my research. I have also had time to attend a number of conferences.
Currently I am working with a drosophila model of neurodegeneration that was developed here in Oxford. We hope it may provide clues into ways of ameliorating a variety of chronic neurological diseases, including the dementias.
The flexibility of the ACF scheme in Oxford was a big draw for me, combined with the huge variety and high standard of research and facilities on offer.
This combination offered the opportunity to work with leading academics across a number of areas that interested me and to collaborate across departments – something that was clearly encouraged and embodied by OUCAGS. The obvious commitment to encourage disciplines to interact, work with, and learn from, one another really stood out and I felt it would result in the best possible academic training and experience.
Now that I am in Oxford, I have only positive things to say! And the ACF has made me determined to pursue a research career.
The time and funding that this fellowship offers has allowed me to enjoy a wide variety of experiences that have clearly benefitted my clinical and academic work. I have found the general attitude in Oxford to be very ‘can do’. I love that you can send an e-mail, jump on your bike and be sat talking with a leading academic in almost any field of medical science imaginable often within the hour!