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Oxford immunologist chosen to be healthcare scientist role model

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A clinical scientist who works at Oxford's Churchill Hospital has been chosen for special leadership training with a view to becoming a national role model inspiring the next generation of healthcare scientists.

Dr Lisa Ayers, who works in Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust's Department of Clinical and Laboratory Immunology, was one of four female healthcare scientists to receive the Chief Scientific Officer's (CSO) Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Fellowship, which starts in September 2017.

The prestigious programme was launched last year in conjunction with International Women's Day, and this year attracted more than 50 applications from female healthcare scientists.

Over the coming year, Lisa will have the chance to receive bespoke leadership development training and be mentored by senior leaders in healthcare, industry and academia, as well as speaking and ambassadorial opportunities through the CSO and WISE networks.

She will also have the opportunity to join senior leaders at NHS England healthcare science advisory meetings.


"I am very excited about this opportunity to promote healthcare science, to be an ambassador for women working in this field and to represent Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust," Lisa said.

"I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by inspiring female role models in the Trust, who have supported and encouraged my aspirations. I now wish to use this experience to encourage the next generation of healthcare scientists."

Lisa, who has worked for OUH for the past 12 years, volunteers as a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) ambassador, providing support to schools, local career fairs and national science competitions.

She undertook her clinical scientist training in immunology, studying for a Masters and PhD part-time. During this time she combined both clinical and academic roles through the support of two National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) fellowships. In 2016, she was awarded the Chief Scientific Officer Healthcare Science Rising Star - Life Sciences Award, recognising her work as a Clinical Academic.

Lisa said: "I am very excited about the opportunities this fellowship offers, including working with the other WISE fellows, being mentored by people from outside my discipline, receiving bespoke leadership training and the chance to speak at NHS England and CSO networking events and conferences."

Lisa believes she has additional experience that will be useful in this role: "I had my first child last year and I have experienced many of the challenges faced by healthcare scientists when returning to work.

"I aim to use this experience throughout the fellowship to support other healthcare scientists, both male and female, with caring responsibilities. I hope to encourage others to apply for similar opportunities and to demonstrate that it is possible to have a successful career as a healthcare scientist, as well as maintaining a good work/life balance."


OUH Medical Director Tony Berendt said: "This is tremendous news for Lisa, her department and the trust as a whole.

"Lisa fully deserves this award; she has proved herself to be an excellent scientist who inspires those around her. I'm sure Lisa's participation in the fellowship will allow her to continue her great work, benefiting our Trust and motivating others to consider a career in healthcare science."

Professor Sue Hill OBE, Chief Scientific Officer for England, said the initiative was a unique opportunity to inspire the next generation of female healthcare scientists to gain leadership experience and showcase the wide variety of STEM-based careers in the NHS.

"I am proud to announce the fellows who now have the opportunity to inspire the next generation of female scientists. In recognition of the importance of science and innovation in addressing global health challenges, we have been working with WISE to create this fellowship scheme and support an aim of getting one million more women working in the UK STEM workforce."