CL in Diabetes and Endocrinology
Dr Fainia Kavvoura (2014)
Pathway to a Clinical Lectureship
Fainia studied medicine at the University of Ioannina, School of Medicine, Greece. Early on in her undergraduate years, she became interested in research and under the supervision of Prof JP Ioannidis she embarked on projects looking into the genetic predisposition to diabetes. Fainia had published 3 research papers before graduating from Medical School and, upon graduation, she pursued a PhD in genetic epidemiology, funded by an EU research grant. Part of her research led to the development of the Strengthening of Reporting of Genetic Association Studies (STREGA) statement.
Following the completion of her PhD, Fainia moved to England to continue her clinical training, initially at Cambridge (Core Medical Training) and then at Oxford (diabetes and endocrinology). Having always been interested in a career in academic medicine, Fainia applied for the NIHR Clinical Lecturer (CL) post, which would give her the opportunity to perform research in the genetics of diabetes whilst continuing her clinical training.
What does the work involve?
Fainia has been in the CL job for about two years, having spent about a year in protected research time and another year in full-time clinical training. During her research time, she has been able to design and lead some projects looking into how genomic information can be used in the differential diagnosis of young adults with diabetes. Working within Prof McCarthy’s and Prof Owen’s groups in the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM) has provided her with excellent opportunities to improve her research skills. Fainia has also been involved in the Genetics Diabetes Clinic, led by Prof Owen, further feeding her research interest in the aetiology of diabetes.
Fainia is involved in teaching junior doctors and medical students attached to the department. Since joining OCDEM in 2012, she took over the planning of the regional SpR teaching in diabetes and endocrinology for the Oxford Deanery, held four times a year.
Fainia feels that being a CL allows for protected research time whilst continuing clinical training and is extremely useful for clinicians who want to engage in academic medicine. Research time offers the chance to further establish one’s research interests and develop their independence after the doctorate degree and before applying for intermediate fellowships. However, this comes with the expense of delaying the completion of clinical training.
Fainia finds it challenging to balance clinical practice and active research. However, she feels that it is well worth it as their continuous positive feedback is what makes a difference to patients’ lives. She believes that establishing from early on in the job the working patterns between clinical training and research is essential, and teaming up with another colleague to job-share the clinical duties can prove very useful in tailoring the available time in the job in the best possible way to achieve the most out of it.
Oxford is a unique place for combining research and training in Diabetes and Endocrinology. OCDEM fosters diverse research themes within diabetes and endocrinology. It includes the Diabetes Trials Unit, state-of-the-art facilities for basic and clinical studies, and vast resources for genetic studies. It is truly an inter-disciplinary place where a mix of researchers from different backgrounds and clinicians interact on an everyday basis, generating fantastic opportunities and collaborations, always focused on translational research.
Oxford is an exciting place to live, offering a cosmopolitan environment, bursting with cultural events and close to beautiful countryside.
Fainia is currently working on setting up projects that could form the basis of applying for funding to further continue her research after the end of this 4-year ACL post.