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Where next? We're just getting started

Professor Alison Richardson - WRC Wessex Director

Hello everyone. It’s been months of hard work for many of us, not just on a professional level, but personally too. Remember our best is good enough, we don’t have to be perfect.

With the arrival of a framework for restarting NIHR research activities which have paused due to COVID-19. It’s now time for us to begin a process of restarting and reconsidering our research see link here. The pandemic has resulted in extraordinary challenges for healthcare in the UK and worldwide. There has been considerable disruption to research plans, and we face major challenges. These include; developing plans for project evolution where original plans may no longer be feasible, re-entry plans for research staff who have needed to take prolonged periods away from research due to clinical service needs or other reasons, and putting funding in place for any necessary extensions to take account of impact of Covid-19 pandemic. We have started to address these challenges and will accelerate work in the coming days and weeks.

So, to update you on key areas of activity:

The theme leads and Chief Investigators are busy reviewing projects, as well as developing plans for the ARCs year 2 programme. The ARC has supported a small number of rapid response projects to address Covid-19 knowledge gaps/needs, as well as supporting several investigators to submit proposals for consideration to the NIHR Rapid Response Rolling call.

The late summer will see the launch of our Competition to award research funding to investigators who are members of ARC Wessex Faculty. The Competition is a central component of our strategy and projects funded through this competition will form a major part of our programme during years 3-5. We plan to hold a webinar to introduce the Competition and answer questions in July 2020 and the deadline for Expressions of Interest will be in late September 2020. So, you have lots of notice and be great to hear about your research ideas and plans. There will also be opportunities to check in with theme leads to ensure any research fits with the overall objectives of the ARC Wessex.

We have received 17 applications in response to the doctoral fellowship call and the panel are meeting to review and rank applications. Once awarded supervisory teams will make plans to advertise and recruit the fellows, to start in September/October 2020.

We submitted an application to the NIHR National Priorities call and were successful. We are due to start leading on Ageing, dementia and frailty collaborative research with Great Manchester, ARC Peninsula and Yorkshire and Humber from this autumn. In the meantime, there will be details of that bid for research in a webinar this September.

There will be series of seminars too, from each theme planned every 3 months over the coming year, looking at aspects of the research being undertaken by each one.

There is a lot happening.

Thank you again, and let’s get to work.