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Dr Odile Harrison, Senior Research Fellow at Oxford Population Health, has received an Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard award. Odile is one of 54 exceptional biomedical and health researchers to receive awards this year and one of two awardees from the University of Oxford. 

The Springboard scheme supports early career scientists to establish their independent research careers through awards of up to £125,000 over two years. Along with the funding, Springboard recipients benefit from the Academy’s mentoring opportunities and career development programmes.  

Odile’s work involves the analysis of whole genome sequence data belonging to sexually transmitted bacteria. The AMS award will allow genomics analyses to be undertaken in low- and middle-income settings such as Africa where the sexually transmitted infection burden is greatest. 

Odile said ‘I am delighted to receive this award which will enable me to develop the TIGRA project – “Towards an improved genomic representation of Neisseria gonorrhoeae in Africa” with the support of Oxford Population Health and the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit.’ 

The Academy of Medical Sciences has invested over £36 million into the next generation of research leaders through Springboard since the scheme began in 2015. The Springboard programme responds to the Academy’s call for greater security and career development opportunities for health researchers, as highlighted in its Future Proofing UK Health Research report. By providing substantial funding and access to mentoring over two years, the programme aims to help emerging research leaders establish their independent research careers and contribute to a sustainable pipeline of research talent in the UK.  

Professor James Naismith FMedSci, Vice-President (Non-Clinical) at the Academy of Medical Sciences, said ‘Scientists face immense challenges as they begin their careers, and the Academy recognises the hurdles early career researchers must navigate as they establish themselves, which is why initiatives like Springboard are vital. Through this unique programme, we are extremely pleased to support 54 exceptional scientists with our largest-ever round of funding.   

‘The Academy, together with our partners, is committed to cultivating the next generation of biomedical research leaders and ensuring they have the resources and support necessary to realise their immense potential. By providing substantial financial backing and access to invaluable career development opportunities at this critical stage, we can enable talented researchers to deliver breakthroughs and innovations to improve human health.’ 

The Springboard programme is supported by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), Wellcome, the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK.