Today sees the start of the NIHR The Shape the Future campaign celebrating the work and impact of the NHS research workforce. 

To coincide with the national campaign, during November ARC Yorkshire and Humber are showcasing some of our PHD students; their work and why they decided to take a path in research and help #shapethefuture of research. 

I first became interested in a career in research when studying for my Masters degree in Health Economics at the University of York. During my studies I became fascinated by health inequalities and, more specifically, on how the early years of life impact on health and opportunities later in life.

Nearing the end of my studies, I saw an advert for a PhD at the University of York, exploring how practitioners, commissioners, and service providers could be best supported to use research cohort data in their decision-making around child and early life health. The PhD would focus on a new cohort, Born in Bradford 4 All (BiB4All), which gains consent from pregnant women to link and use data that are routinely collected about them and their child by public services for research purposes. Collaboration between researchers, local services, commissioners, health professionals and the community in Bradford to improve the health of local children and families is at the heart of this project, and I instantly knew that I wanted to be a part of this. I was excited by the many possibilities for how these data could be used to address health inequalities. I applied for the PhD and am really grateful to have been given the opportunity to undertake this research. The PhD was part of the Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaboration and funded by the White Rose Consortium. 

Before seeing this opportunity, I had never really considered undertaking a PhD. I had assumed you needed to already know a lot about the subject and have a detailed research plan. However, when I saw the advert for this PhD, I talked to other students who were currently doing a PhD. I realised that a PhD is like a training course that allows you to focus on a research area you are interested in and develop your skills as a researcher. 

During my PhD, I gained skills in conducting both qualitative and quantitative research, as well as public and stakeholder involvement and engagement in research. I developed an inclusive, online workshop method that engaged health care professionals, commissioners, and members of the public to identify local research priorities around child and maternal health. I then explored whether the available data from the BiB4All cohort could be used to address a research question that was prioritised with local stakeholders. I found that key information needed to address this research priority was not available. I also conducted interviews with local early years decision-makers to understand their perspectives towards using linked routinely collected data for research and decision-making and to identify their support needs. 

Of course, a PhD journey is never smooth sailing, and I faced many challenges along the way. I tried to embrace these challenges and learn from them by asking for advice from the many skilled people I met throughout my time as a student. 

Over the course of my PhD, the BiB4All cohort led to the development of a network of cohorts linking routinely collected data for research, known as the Born and Bred in (BaBi) network. One of the things I enjoyed the most was being a part of this development and seeing my research implemented in real time. I also liked the collaborative nature of the project and working as part of a multi-disciplinary team to conduct research that is important locally and that can make a real difference. As a result, when I saw the job advertised at Born in Bradford as a research fellow working on the BaBi Network, I jumped at the chance. 

My new role at Born in Bradford will allow me to focus on the recommendations for future research that I identified during my PhD. This includes understanding why key data on children and families that may be useful for research and decision-making may be missing from their routine health record.  

My name is Ragy Tadrous, and I'm a PhD Candidate in the University of Leeds in the Academic Unit for Ageing and Stroke Research. My PhD focused on reducing sitting time in community-dwelling older adults, with a particular emphasis on the importance of social connectedness to improve physical and mental well-being.

I ended up in Yorkshire after finishing my Masters and desperately needing a change of scenery from Dublin and was very grateful to be offers a White Rose Network Scholarship from the University of Leeds and University of York. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Yorkshire, and loved just how scenic it can be.

I just submitted my PhD which I will defend in January and am looking forward to furthering my career as a researcher (after taking a well needed break).

My PhD explored the experience of ageing with coexsitent frailty and cognitive impairment. In particular what events across people’s lives might contribute to health changes, how people cope with challenges as they get older and what services can do to support older people to live well. 

The first stage of my PhD identified what other research had been done in this area. My review of the research looked at the psychological and social factors that may contribute to physical and cognitive decline. There weren’t many studies that looked at this relationship. Those that did found that depression, living alone and being less financially secure often had a negative effect on health in old age. Having looked at the existing research, I decided to explore in depth the life histories of some older people. I interviewed 17 older people across the UK. I had to do my interviews by telephone, because of the restrictions and limitations of the Covid-19 pandemic. I felt really privileged to hear the stories of the people who participated. The stories were very varied. Most people spoke about how the world has changed a great deal across their lifetime. Some people had very happy childhoods and some placed a lot on meaning on their careers. Having financial security and family support were often important to people as they got older. Following this I interviewed practitioners who provide care and support to older people who are living in their own homes. They described how they felt some people aged differently because of combined and interacting psychological and social factors which built up over lifetimes, their passion for their work and the challenges they experience in providing adequate care to older people. I am hoping that my research findings offer some understanding of what psychological and social factors might impact on health in later life, and how services can work to support older people to live well.  

I have just passed my Viva earlier this month and I am currently working on some minor amendments, I aim to graduate next year.

My background is as a care assistant in a residential care home for older people. I undertook my undergraduate degree in psychology whilst working in that role. I moved into research for the NHS in 2015 working on numerous studies in care homes, hospitals and in community settings. I also was seconded to work for the University of Leeds as a Linking Researcher embedded in a care home in Leeds. I worked in these roles until the end of 2019 when I applied for a PhD Studentship aiming to investigate and explore Cognitive Frailty. I began my PhD around Christmas 2019. 

My hope for the future is to graduate, and explore publication options for my primary research studies. I hope to continue to work in research applying my understanding of the influence of accumulated life-course factors on health and wellbeing. I currently work as part of Born in Bradford as a Research Fellow looking at early years system in Bradford.

I started my PhD after the NHS trust I work for put out a post for a Clinical Academic Nurse. I have always been interested in how clinicians work and why we practice in specific ways. My interest peaked when I took a sabbatical from the NHS and worked in an intensive care unit (ICU) in Australia, here I was introduced to their working ways.  


When a new clinical academic role emerged in the trust where I worked, I seized this opportunity to research more about clinicians' practice. This Clinical Academic Role was created in collaboration with the trust I worked for, the University of Sheffield and the NIHR Yorkshire and Humber. The Yorkshire and Humber NIHR developed The ClinicAl Doctoral Nurses and ALlied Health Professionals network, shortened to the CArDINAL programme. The CArDINAL programme created a space to develop a clinical academic pathway for nurses, midwives and AHP's. Being a successful applicant meant that my hours would now be divided into 15 hours of clinical practice and 22.5 hours of research, specifically to complete my PhD. 

My research project is focused on looking at the sedation practices of health care professionals when caring for patients on a ventilator in the intensive care unit (ICU) between the UK and Australia. Research has shown that often how health care professionals sedate patients has an impact on their long-term outcomes and recovery, with no two ICUs managing sedation practice the same. Many health care professionals often lean towards heavily sedating patients, which can have detrimental effects on patients if used inappropriately. Therefore, I am having a deep dive into how patients are sedated using qualitative data to collect this information. I hope this research can help influence future sedation practices and international guidance. 

My advice for someone looking into research is: 'don't think you will be held back if you haven't followed the traditional route of an undergrad followed by a master's. I began my PhD without a master's, and it can be done.' 

Tarun K George (George)

PhD Scholar at ScHARR (Sheffield centre for health and related research), 

Division of Population Health, School of Medicine and Population Health, University of Sheffield. 

Affiliated with the NIHR ( National institute of Health Research) Applied Research Collaboration Yorkshire & Humber (ARC Y & H) 


I’ve always found it fascinating to understand how things work and have been motivated to improve the status quo for people and situations. This aspiration led me to become a clinician in awe of the art and science of medicine and now I find my dreams drawn towards a career as a public health professional seeking to effect change in populations.  

Having trained in India, I practise as an internist with clinical exposure in various medical specialties in India and elderly care in the UK. To better understand public health and economics, I pursued an MPH from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and an Masters in Global Health Economics from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

To me a PhD is a path towards being a competent researcher on a global stage and to support initiatives in a myriad of settings. Public health is a multidisciplinary field, requiring expertise and inputs from numerous stakeholders. It’s  collaborative, necessitating several professionals to contribute to solutions. And it's contextual, realising that one solution doesn’t fit all settings. To me, health economics provides a valuable perspective to look at problems and equips one with useful skills to acquire and present potential solutions. The niche of elderly care is a complex and vast field with high disease and financial burden necessitating sensitivity and creativity.

I am very grateful for this unique position to be in SCHARR under the NIHR umbrella and embedded within the ARC to better understand the strengths and challenges of the healthsystem, the process of research  prioritisation and  taking research from a hypothesis scaled up to a program. The access to excellent training, widespread networking and plenty of occasions to engage with global leaders in the field is one of the invaluable benefits of being part of this team. 

I am supervised by Chris Bojke (Leeds University) , Tracey A Young  and Harry Hill (University of Sheffield). Although I am still early in my project, I hope to be exploring a multi-sector model that can assess interventions to determine healthcare resource utilisation, costs and utilities of acute conditions in the elderly. I look forward to working with the CARE 75 team to better understand the risk factors of acute outcomes in the frail-elderly.

At the end of this season, I hope to be someone who works locally but collaborates globally, supporting growth and development providing economic solutions for clinical and public health issues in low resource settings and vulnerable populations. 

I’m eagerly looking forward to this journey of learning, making new connections, and hopefully making a difference.