Dr Dimitrios Karponis
Academic Foundation Programme (2022)
PATHWAY TO AN AFP POSITION
I graduated in 2020 from Imperial College medical school with an intercalated BSc in pharmacology.
I have a longstanding curiosity to better understand how the human body works and to find answers to meaningful and relevant questions for patients. I first started my research journey as a high-school student in a summer program in Minnesota, US. I soon realised that academia offers the opportunity to ask your own questions and derive your own answers. It enables the creation of new knowledge and the gaining of an understanding of why we practice medicine the way we do. I hold this purpose in high regard.
WHAT DOES THE WORK INVOLVE?
My AFP came with a full day of academic time per week for two of my placements (one in F1 and one in F2). In addition, during F2, I had a fully protected academic block with two weeks of clinical work (similar to a taster week). My main research focus has been to standardise the study of delayed-type hypersensitivity skin reactions in drug development.
The University offers a plethora of seminars via the Medical Sciences Division (e.g. training in teaching, learning to code using R studio) and hosts regular OUCAGS research forums.
Using the academic time and generous OUCAGS funding, I have attended several conferences and external courses. I have also completed my Good Clinical Practice training and taught pharmacology and therapeutics to Oxford medical students.
In summary, the AFP offered me the resources to pursue my interests and prepare a strong application for further clinical academic training.
I chose Oxford for multiple reasons:
- Flexibility in the AFP program to work with my academic supervisor of choice
- OUCAGS (career support, forums, socials, funding up to £1000)
- Leading clinical and research departments with multiple collaborations and state-of-the-art facilities
- The city itself (and, in my case, being placed in Oxford for almost the full 2 years)
As a summer research student at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology in 2017, I knew that Oxford would offer me the best possible start to grow as an academic in my field of interest, in terms of environment, tools and facilities.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE PROS AND CONS OF THE AFP?
The AFP has had the following advantages:
- Additional time for portfolio building (research, publications, teaching, conferences)
- Complementing hospital work and adding variety to the clinical routine
- Opportunity for a “research-taster” and to create a network of future collaborators
The AFP has also had some disadvantages:
- Limited time for research (one needs to be realistic with one’s goals and plan early)
- Reduced clinical exposure and less time to achieve clinical competencies
- Reduced pay (as usually there are no on-calls, weekend or night shifts)
Through the AFP, I have gained more research experience and have successfully built my NIHR ACF application for further clinical academic training.