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The University of Southampton
Southampton Clinical Academic Training Scheme

Case Study: Dr Jess Jarvis, former Academic Foundation Trainee

What is your current position?

I am currently working as a BRC funded senior clinical research fellow in paediatrics at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust.  I am doing this as an out of programme in research from my Public Health training number. As part of my role I am working towards a PhD.

Prior to going out of programme for research I spent 2 years as an ACF.  This allowed me to develop my academic skill set further. During this time I obtained an MSc in Public Health from the University of Southampton and published a systematic review and meta-analysis on influenza vaccination in pregnant women in a peer reviewed journal.


Dr Jess Jarvis
Dr Jess Jarvis

Why did you choose to apply to the Academic Foundation Programme at Southampton?

I applied to the Academic Foundation Programme at Southampton primarily due to Wessex deanery’s strong academic reputation, particularly through its links with the University of Southampton.  In addition, given that the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust is a specialist centre, I knew I would gain excellent clinical experience whilst training there.

As I was an undergraduate at the University of Southampton, I have first-hand experience of what a great place Southampton is to study and work in.  It has great travel links which I knew would help facilitate my ability to attend courses and events, networking across the UK and Europe.  On top of this as a lover of the outdoors, being in such close proximity to the New Forest and the Solent was a great bonus for me!


What opportunities did your Academic Foundation post provide, or what did it enable you to achieve?

My AFP in Child Health provided me with a wealth of opportunities.  I was able to meet with many different paediatric academics and explore potential projects and research areas. I found this really valuable as it allowed me to tailor my AFP to my interests.  Everyone was really friendly and keen to have me involved in their work – something which made me feel very welcomed and privileged.  There were so many interesting and varied projects, the hardest part was deciding which one to choose!

In the end I decided to undertake a topic on the effect of temperature on QuantiFERON-TB tubes – a diagnostic test used in Tuberculosis.  This involved setting up the project, gaining ethics, recruiting participants and analysing the samples in the laboratory.  I undertook training in Good Clinical Practice and developed basic laboratory and statistical skills.  The project culminated in my colleagues and I publishing a paper as first author in a peer reviewed journal.  I also presented my work at the European Society of Paediatric Diseases conference as an oral poster presentation.  This was a great experience – if somewhat nerve wracking – but I was fortunate to have a great supervisory team who supported me throughout. The professional support I have received whilst at Southampton has been vital to my progression as a junior researcher.


How did your AFP prepare you for your Academic Clinical Fellowship?

I was really encouraged by the AFP, which confirmed that an academic career was definitely the future career path for me. The strong basic research skills that I developed from my AFP helped me obtain my next role as a clinical research fellow (post completion of FY2), where I worked as the study coordinator for a large European Study in paediatric infectious diseases based in St George’s University London.  The AFP gave me the confidence and self-belief to apply for this role and ultimately take up this offer.

My role as a clinical research fellow further developed my academic skills set; presenting at conferences, running steering groups, applying for national ethical approvals, designing and running site training…the list goes on! 

After working as a clinical research fellow for a few years, I decided it was an appropriate time to enter into a training programme.  By now I had decided that I wanted to pursue a Public Health academic role with a special interest in Paediatric Public Health.  For me Public Health – often like research – allows you to look at ‘the bigger picture’, focusing on population level health and making changes at a wider level.   I then took up my first choice role as an Academic Clinical Fellow at Southampton University.

Ultimately the AFP really gave me a core grounding in research, but most importantly the confidence to apply and take up an ACF.


Tell us a bit about your current research.

My current research is in paediatric allergy and asthma.  As part of this I am working with a large team of researchers on a national multi-centred prospective cohort study, looking specifically at pre-school wheeze.  By looking into this area it may be possible to identify potential targets in early childhood when asthma develops, thereby preventing the development of asthma in the first instance.

What I particularly enjoy about my current role is that I am working across various disciplines including paediatrics, public health and genomics at Southampton University and in the wider study consortium.  As such I am developing a strong support network which is important for my professional development.

My current research is helping me build my academic skills further.  I am given lots of opportunities to gain new knowledge and skills for instance in statistics, bioinformatics and machine learning. This will really help in my future academic career as I aspire to become a more independent researcher.


Find out more

Specialised Foundation ProgrammeWhy Southampton?

The AFP really gave me a core grounding in research, but most importantly the confidence to apply and take up an ACF.

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