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The knowledge and understanding of basic science and disease mechanisms really does strengthen clinical skills. The research feels truly translational and discoveries in the lab are used to influence treatment decisions for our patients.

CL in Dermatology

Dr Tess McPherson (2009)

Pathway to a Clinical Lectureship

Tess studied medicine as an undergraduate in Cambridge, followed by clinical training and general medicine at St Mary’s, London and a rotation at the Whittington. During this rotation Tess decided to specialise in Dermatology. Whilst attached to St Johns department of Dermatology, St Thomas’ Hospital, London and the National Institute of Health (NIH), Washington DC, Tess began clinical research based in Guyana, South America and then the USA working on the World Health Organisation’s programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF) (also known as elephantiasis). This research was supported by the International Foundation of Dermatology, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and an operational research grant from Glaxo Smith Kline. From this research Tess achieved an MD, focusing on the inter-digital skin lesions and their aetiology and management in LF lymphoedema. 

This opportunity inspired her interest in research and the links with clinical medicine. After completing her MD thesis, Tess worked at the NIH investigating skin manifestations of hypereosinophilia. Upon her return to the UK, Tess completed her dermatology training as a Clinical Registrar in Oxford. Tess then applied for the post of NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Dermatology attached to the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM), as she was interested in studying the immunological aspects of dermatology while completing her specialty training.

What does the work involve?

As an NIHR Clinical Lecturer, Tess spends 50% of her time carrying out dermatology research and 50% in clinical dermatology. Whilst offering great variety and a degree of flexibility, effective time management can sometimes be difficult to achieve. There is a strong emphasis on translation to clinical practice with numerous clinical trials underway. Primarily, Tess is investigating the relationship of the immunology of atopic eczema to clinical phenotype. Aside from research and clinical duties, Tess is actively involved in teaching medical students. Being attached to Oxford University has allowed her to attend many educational courses, including principles of research ethics and statistics. Since embarking on this post, Tess has successfully achieved two grants (with a 100% application record) and gained ethical approval for a new study.

Why did you choose Oxford?

Tess was already working in the dermatology department in Oxford and so was familiar and positive about department and clinical training here. Additionally Tess grew up in Oxford and was keen to live near her family.

Through exposure to Dr Graham Ogg’s clinics and his work at the WIMM, Tess became interested in the role of immunology in many aspects and diseases of the skin. The cutaneous immunology research in his lab on eczema pathogenesis provided Tess with unique insights into disease understanding and new treatment options. The WIMM is an internationally recognised research institute conducting high quality research, allowing collaboration and networking across many different fields. Additional links to Oxford University via the Academic Medical Forum offers great opportunities for training and involvement in teaching.