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CL in Paediatrics

Dr James Gilchrist

Pathway to a Clinical Lectureship

During my undergraduate training I spent time in Cal MacLennan’s group at the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme. There I investigated susceptibility of HIV-infected Malawian adults to invasive nontyphoidal Salmonella (NTS) infection. It was that experience that started my interest in host susceptibility to infection.

I started my postgraduate clinical academic training in Oxford in 2008 within an Academic Foundation Programme, leading into an Academic Clinical Fellowship in paediatrics in 2010. I completed my DPhil with Adrian Hill’s infectious disease genetics group in the Jenner Institute in 2016, investigating host genetic susceptibility to NTS in Malawian and Kenyan children. I took up my clinical lectureship (in paediatric infectious diseases and immunology) in 2018.

What does the work involve?

I try to split my weeks in two, with clinical commitments at the start of the week and research activities at the end, although there’s considerable flexibility to this. My research interests expand on my interest in human genetics of invasive infection developed during my DPhil studies. I am currently:

  • completing a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of leprosy in Malawian and Malian populations,
  • starting a GWAS of rotavirus disease and immunity in Kenyan and Ugandan children, and
  • developing an interest in the genetics of gene expression in immune cells (and how this is perturbed by environmental factors) with Ben Fairfax’s group at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine.

Throughout my training, OUCAGS have supported my attendance at research training courses which have been instrumental in helping me make the most of new research opportunities.

I also teach and examine on the clinical paediatric course for 5th year undergraduates.

I love the variety that my current working week offers me, and have never found my clinical and academic work more engaging.

Why Oxford?

I have been very fortunate to have trained with OUCAGS throughout my postgraduate career. My clinical academic training at every level in Oxford has been extraordinarily flexible. It has allowed me to explore academic training opportunities in world-leading labs in Oxford and elsewhere in the UK, in international centres and in industry. The strength of biomedical research in Oxford has been enormously important; it has helped me identify new avenues for my research as my interests have matured, and fostered collaborative networks within Oxford and with other groups internationally.

What are your plans for the future?

Being a CL has reinforced for me that in the longer term I want to have a career as a clinician scientist. The flexibility to spend time with new groups during my clinical academic training in Oxford has been key to expanding my research interests and collaborative networks and hopefully preparing me for research independence in the medium term.

December 2020