CL in Plastic Surgery
Dr Fadi Issa (2015)
Pathway to a Clinical Lectureship
I first became interested in basic science research during my undergraduate degree, working on nitric oxide in cardiac regulation.
During my clinical training I became aware of the challenges faced in reconstructive surgery and how these can be addressed by transplantation rather than reconstruction using autologous tissues. However, transplantation is constrained by the need for immunosuppression as well as poor long-term outcomes, and I soon realised that these challenges are best addressed through basic science and translational research.
I was fortunate to join Professor Kathryn Wood’s group to undertake a DPhil examining techniques for immunomodulation as a method to prevent skin transplant rejection. As a CL, I am now moving these techniques forward towards a clinical therapy and examining the mechanisms of skin rejection further using novel transplantation models. [View Fadi’s page on the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS) website.]
What does the work involve?
Being a CL is a challenging but highly rewarding experience and, despite the challenges, I feel very fortunate to be able to carry out research during my clinical training.
I split my week between clinical and research commitments, but remain flexible in anticipation of the demands of either role.
The principal challenges are time management and finding a research focus in which to carve out your niche, in an effort to move towards research independence. Balancing the commitment to clinical training can sometimes be tricky and it is best seen as ‘dual accreditation’.
The role requires a huge personal commitment to ensure that both roles are fulfilled, and, I would say that:
- in order to benefit most from the role, it is important to ensure a link between research and clinical work.
- performing bench experiments is the greatest challenge, as they can be time consuming; it is therefore important to plan out the day, week and month accordingly.
As the role is transitional, moving towards academic independence, it is also useful to start to build a research team, if possible.
The most important reason for choosing Oxford is to facilitate my research goals. The highly regarded Transplantation Research Immunology Group, and its close association with both the Oxford Transplant Centre and the Department of Plastic Surgery, is critical; it facilitates the translation of findings from the lab to the clinic, and vice versa. The ability to collaborate with other research groups across the University is also invaluable.
Being a CL has cemented my ambition to be a clinical academic. I cannot envisage a better career path.