As an early-career researcher I have attended hundreds of conferences and seminars whether in London, UK, Europe or abroad, so my expectations for this one-day conference from an organiser’s perspective was whether we would be able to meet those standards. The conference was held on 4 October at Senate House, London. It was unique in the dimension of bringing CLAHRC researchers together to share work experiences, discuss their findings and establish potential collaborations as they progress. Personally, even though I was involved in directing people to lecture rooms, responding to requests, or simply taking photos, I also attended a session where I had the opportunity to hear from four researchers spanning from predoctoral level, to postdoctorate submission to lecturer position discussing their research work and implications for clinical practice.
For example, how an evidence-based nutritional programme is currently being rolled-out for people with intellectual disabilities to control their weight, or how 24% of women at high-risk of preterm labour can be identified at an earlier stage and prevent this, through having an early assessment and continuity of midwife care. I realised that none of these experiences would have been made possible for me if it wasn’t down to this conference. More importantly, it made me think of the fact that none of this research would have been made possible to benefit patients or their families if it wasn’t for the NIHR funding.
A final note from my reflections on this conference, and core to me as a female researcher, was the very high ratio of women to men indicating the shift towards providing equal opportunities, especially within healthcare and the biomedical research field, helping us to evolve during this process into becoming independent researchers. Opportunities such as this conference are truly important for researchers to come together from all the CLAHRC networks to share their work. Finally, my impression from the day is that there is a great support from the NIHR Academy towards enhancing a community of like-minded researchers that extends beyond this conference.