CL in Neurology
Dr Simon Rinaldi (2013)
Pathway to a Clinical Lectureship
As a medical undergraduate at the University of Manchester I undertook an intercalated degree in pathology, during which I studied the effects of the adipose tissue associated signalling molecule leptin on human bone. This fostered an interest in medical research, but during my medical rotation my focus shifted from bones to neurology, and diseases of the peripheral nerves in particular. I moved to the University of Glasgow as a clinical research fellow, and secured funding from the Wellcome Trust to study the immunopathology and glycobiology of inflammatory neuropathy. Under the inspiring supervision of Professor Hugh Willison I was able to develop a new serological test, define a novel range of antibody specificities in Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS) and help to develop an improved experimental model of the disease. The NIHR Clinical Lecturer (CL) post is an invaluable opportunity to build on this doctoral research and move towards research independence.
What does the work involve?
During the four-year lectureship, up to 50% of my time is set aside for research. This is currently organised in 4- to 12-month blocks, allowing a continuous period of study to significantly advance ongoing projects, develop new lines of investigation, apply from grants and write up papers.
To date, I have formed a collaboration with the International GBS Outcome Study (IGOS – to which Oxford has already contributed patients), and completed a small serological study of patients with Multifocal Motor Neuropathy (MMN). I am currently applying for ethical approval to set up a clinical, serological and DNA databank of neuropathy patients, and have applied for start-up funding to support the development of biomarkers and study of pathogenesis in a range of neuropathies. I organised a neurology teaching day for medical registrars, contributed to neurology training days in peripheral neuropathy, and am a college tutor in neuroscience.
Becoming a CL entailed another geographical upheaval, putting off a permanent job for several years more, and the challenges of trying to combine often substantial clinical commitments with the many demands of science. However, these downsides of the lectureship are more than compensated for by the periods of (relatively) protected research time.
Oxford has an outstanding international reputation for Neuroimmunology, particularly with regard to the work of Professor Angela Vincent and her research group, and this was one of its principal attractions. There is also an unparalleled opportunity to collaborate with world-leading scientists in other disciplines throughout the University.