sOOPR Resources

A Fellow’s guide to Out of Programme research​

Resources brought to you by the BJCA supported by the BHF Clinical Research Collaborative.

Target audience: Any Cardiology Fellow considering doing an MD/PhD or those starting off and in the early stages of their research programme. Great content for any Academics wanting to hear the experience of others and from leaders in the field.

The BJCA have recorded a great series of videos with experts from Research Organisations like the Health Research Authority, NIHR Academy and the BHF telling you how to navigate the obstacles and the common mistakes they’ve seen. They also include first-hand insights from Research Fellows who have recently gone through the process and sharing ‘what they wish they had known at the start’.

Podcast Episodes

SOOPR #1 Dr James Howard- Funders, Passion projects and AI

An interview with Dr James Howard, NIHR Clinical Lecturer and Cardiology SPR, Imperial College London. James shares his experiences applying for funding for his PhD and his thoughts on AI in Cardiology research.

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SOOPR #2 Dr Upasana Tayal: Rejection, resilience and mindset

An interview with Dr Upasana Tayal, Clinical Lecturer and Cardiology registrar at Imperial College London. Upasana covers her journey to PhD but also the struggles in achieving the great success that she did. She contrasts clinical challenges to academic whilst emphasising the rewards as well. Since recording, Upasana has been awarded Young Investigator Award by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) 2021 again.

SOOPR #3 Dr George Collins: Choosing your supervisor, learning new skills and the University

Dr George Collins, Cardiology SpR and Wellcome Trust clinical research fellow at UCL bares all, sharing genuine insights, anxieties and joys along his research journey.

He describes the process he took to select his research team and lab and the reasons why he chose to do a benchside PhD in Immunology.

SOOPR #4 Prof Sir Terence Stephenson: the HRA and common mistakes on ethics application

We go right to the top of the Health Research Authority and are honoured to bring you Sir Prof Terence Stephenson, Chair of the HRA, and previous Chair of the GMC, Dean of University College London and Consultant Paediatrician.

Seeking ethics approval can be challenging, especially if a Fellow is doing so for the first time. Sir Terence lays out the HRA infrastructure and the intentions and objectives of their Ethics Committees. We discuss common mistakes and how to overcome the associated challenges.

sOOPR #5: Dr Andrew Chapman: Research before NTN, supervisor support and return to clinical

We hear from Dr Andrew Chapman, SpR and Clinical Lecturer at University of Edinburgh. Andrew took his OOPR before his NTN and he reflects on the advantages and disadvantages of this. He discusses the invaluable benefit from a good supervisor and loved ones and talks about his experience when returning back after research.

sOOPR #6 Dr Jaffar Khan: Doing your research abroad, innovation and autonomy

Dr Jaffar Khan is a Staff clinician at NHLBI, Washington and interventional Fellow MedStar Washington Hospital, taking an OOPR from Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital in London, UK. He gives such an inspirational perspective of how to thrive and enjoy your time doing research.

He describes his journey from idea to implementation, taking your OOPR abroad and advice for Fellows thinking of doing a hands-on clinical project.

sOOPR #7 Prof Dave Jones: accessibility, supporting applications and post-doc opportunities

Prof Dave Jones is the Dean of the NIHR Academy, on the NIHR Strategy Board and a Prof of Liver Immunology and Clinician in Newcastle. His passion for supporting research training is clear and he talks very pragmatically throughout.

He covers the aims and objectives of the NIHR, how research is being made more accessible for all and how it can support trainees interested in Research at any stage of their training.

sOOPR #8 Sarah Murray – Achieving meaningful Patient & Public Involvement in Research

An interview with Sarah Murray, Chair of the BHF & James Lind PPI partnership. She gives her highly experienced perspective on the value of PPI in designing trainee-led research and it’s critical role when applying for funding. We also go through how to practically get PPI input and what questions to ask.

sOOPR #9 – Dr Mays Jawad, Study sponsorship, regulation and institutional oversight

Dr Mays Jawad is the Research Governance Operations manager at the Queen Mary Univeristy of London/Barts Health Joint Research Management Office. She kindly shares the University perspective on study set-up, shedding light on why things go wrong and what can be done better. Helpful for anyone who’s wondered why their study is taking so long to get sponsored and what is happening behind the scenes!

sOOPR #10 Part 1- Rod Stables: Supervisor responsibilities, perspective and maximising your impact

Prof Rod Stables, BHF CRC Clinical Lead & Consultant Cardiologist, Liverpool Heart & Chest has mentored so many successful Research Fellows and has kindly taken the time to share his insights.  

In the first half, Rod goes into what makes a good supervisor, a good project and how to think about your time Out-of-Programme doing research. 

sOOPR #11 Part 2- Rod Stables: Supervisor responsibilities, perspective and maximising your impact

Prof Rod Stables, BHF CRC Clinical Lead & Consultant Cardiologist, Liverpool Heart & Chest has mentored so many successful Research Fellows and has kindly taken the time to share his insights.

In the second half, Rod goes into how to know if a supervisor is a good fit, how to stay on track and the future of the supervisor-supervisee relationship.

sOOPR #12- Dr Kalpa De Silva: Research degree vs Clinical Fellowship

Dr De Silva talks through what he learnt during his PhD and the pros and cons of doing this early on in training. He then discusses his Clinical Fellowship abroad- something that is even more challenging to organise following Covid. 

He candidly discusses who might prefer one over the other and a good way to think about whats best suited for you.

sOOPR #13- Prof Sanjay Sharma p1: the Sports Cardiology Academic Group and Supervisor’s expectations


In the first of this two part series we have Prof Sanjay Sharma, Sports Cardiology Academic Group, St George’s University of London. In this episode, we focus on the Clinical Academic Group he leads at St George’s University of London and the Fellows he’s supervised. In particular, he focuses on what he’s learnt over the decade + as a PhD supervisor, what he expects from Fellows and how he nurtures that relationship


sOOPR #14- Prof Sanjay Sharma p2: establishing an academic field, networking and long-term vision

In the second half of our conversation, Prof Sharma discusses the early days of Sports Cardiology research in the UK. The serendipity and efforts to do research in a niche area and how to grow that into a research field.

sOOPR #15- Dr Parag Gajendhragadkar: taking OOPR later, the university and writing-up


Dr Parag Gajendhragadkar, post-CCT Fellow, Oxford University Hospitals, discusses so much in this episode we had to over-run! He talks about taking time out-of-programme for research after sub-specialization and the impact of Covid on his research plans. He talks about the arrangements with the University to monitor progression and examination and finally the trials and tribulations of writing up.


sOOPR #16- Prof Sir Nilesh Samani: the BHF, future of cardio research, International collaboration

Prof Sir Nilesh Samani covers his personal journey to BHF Medical Director. He looks backwards and forwards at cardiovascular research from his vantage point and the areas he’s most excited about. We then talk about what all the BHF has to offer and its many facets. Finally we talk about the effort being made to address disproportional representation in academic leadership roles.


sOOPR #17- Dr Andrew Lewis: Research ideas, effective writing and social media

A really interesting episode where Dr Lewis talks through how he develops his research ideas. He also shares his tips on writing up research as papers and the thesis. We also discuss the perks of using social media to share your work.

sOOPR #18- Prof Stuart Pocock: Mega-trials, statistical considerations and teamwork

A goliath from the trial design world shares what he’s learnt working with some of the top academic cardiologists from around the world. Prof Pocock is a world-renownd statistician who’s worked on some of the leading Clinical Trials across the sub-specialties.

He kindly gives his valuable advice and tips to academics designing studies and working on research questions,- how best to answer them and what the key points to think about are.

This will be of tremendous value to any professional involved in research or trial design.

sOOPR #19- Dr Claire Lawson: academia from nursing, tenacity and multi-disciplinary collaboration

We hear from Dr Claire Lawson as she shares her journey to academic success. We discuss the reasons why she chose to transition from clinical nursing to full-time academia. Dr Lawson reflects on how it contrasts with her previous works and the challenges she faced to reach where she is today

sOOPR #20 Prof Matt Sydes- Trial design, the funders perspective and EHRs

Prof Sydes is Professor of Clinical Trials & Methodology at the MRC CTU at UCL. He co-leads the Trial Conduct Methodology programme whilst also under secondment to co-lead the Data-Enabled Trials theme for the BHF Data Science Centre, led by Health Data Research UK.

There is so much insight in this episode for trainees thinking about (or doing) real-world data science research. From the early retrospective audits using EHR data to handling national-level big data, this analytical approach to big questions is growing and growing. It’s an important one to understand- practically + the implications and so we are privileged to have had Prof Sydes talk through the key issues here today.