New funding for University of Leicester to boost pharmacist expertise in research

A new initiative that aims to harness the expertise and experience of pharmacists in healthcare research has been announced at the University of Leicester.

The University will host the Pharmacy Professionals Incubator, funded with £120,000 from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

NIHR will fund 10 Incubators from next year to support academic research career capacity in areas where there is a national need. 

NIHR Incubators were established in 2018. They encourage networking, training and career development support for health and care professionals. 

Professor Debi Bhattacharya from the University of Leicester School of Healthcare will lead the new Pharmacy Professionals Incubator, a collaboration of nine Universities across the UK, several hospitals and community pharmacies working with patients and members of the public.

Professor Bhattacharya said: “Pharmacy is the third largest health profession in the UK and pharmacists are the experts in medicines. However, they are awarded only a tiny fraction of NHS research funding. Given that medicines are the cornerstone of health treatment, we are delighted that the NIHR has awarded three years of funding to boost research within the pharmacy profession. 

“Our incubator team comprising members of the public, researchers, research funders, practitioners and employers will be working with a wide range of stakeholders to design new ways to support pharmacy professionals to do research, and implement those across the UK.”

Seven new Incubators were successful in a recent competition, and three current Incubators were successful in re-applying. All ten Incubators will start their set-up phase from 1 July and begin in January 2024. NIHR will support them for three years. 

Incubators are virtual and bespoke to their community. They provide funding to help stakeholders identify barriers to research capacity and find solutions. They play an important role in attracting, training and supporting researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future. 

Associate Dean of NIHR Academy, Professor Anne-Maree Keenan said: “I am delighted to announce the funding for these 10 Incubators which will help overcome barriers to early career researchers in these areas. They will work closely with the community to address their needs and play an important role in supporting under-represented groups and areas of research most in need. 

“I am excited to see the positive changes they can make. They will help the NIHR shine a spotlight on these crucial areas and think creatively about how to solve the issues that they face.”