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Bridging Fund helped to secure £1 million award

12 March 2020

A Research Fellow at the Centre for Academic Child Health at the University of Bristol’s Medical School used a Bridging Fund from Elizabeth Blackwell Institute to help secure a five-year MRC Career Development Award worth over £1 million.

Facing a funding shortfall between the end of one fellowship and the start of another can have serious implications for any researcher. New fellowship applications in progress are left hanging, research opportunities can be difficult to nurture or maintain, and teaching, training and publishing may be put on hold. Dr Caroline Taylor used a Bridging Fund for Research Fellows from the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute to continue the application and interview process for fellowships before she won the award.

Projects, papers, preparations

“My new Fellowship will start imminently,” said Dr Taylor, “but of course securing that was not the sole focus of my activities. My other aims were to continue to supervise other projects that I run, write and process papers, and take part in a range of academic activities. During the Bridging Fund, I have had one paper accepted for publication and two have gone into review. I have several others in preparation, with one close to being ready for submission.”

Dr Taylor’s research, concerning the influence of nutrition and the environment in pregnancy and childhood, has the aim of improving the health and life-course of women and children. Her new fellowship will enable her to set up a new project investigating dietary exposure to toxic metals during pregnancy.

Pollutants, pregnancy and potentials

Dr Taylor explains: “My aim is to find out how effective NHS guidance is on which foods to avoid or limit during pregnancy to avoid pollutants - specifically toxic metals. I will find out how much pregnant women know about which foods contain small amounts of these toxic metals – particularly fish and rice products – and where they get their information. I’d also like to know whether the guidance offered affects how much of these foods women actually eat and how that affects the amount of the metals in their bodies. I want to enable women to make informed choices, with confidence, based on scientific evidence about these foods so that their unborn babies can develop to their full potential.”

As well as fellowship applications, interviews and paper submissions, Dr Taylor also supervised a variety of research projects and fellowships, initiated PhD and MSc projects, continued developing the programme as Lead Training Opportunities Co-ordinator for the Centre for Academic Child Health, took part on outreach events and appeared on local radio, amongst many other activities.

“Without the Bridging Fund from the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute, I would have been left with fellowship applications pending but without any funding to complete them. My chances of success with these applications would have been enormously reduced, and my absence from work would have ended - or at least severely interrupted - my other contributions to university life. If I had been unsuccessful in getting a fellowship it would probably have meant the end of my university-based academic career, so the Bridging Fund was absolutely invaluable to me”.

Further information

Centre for Academic Child Health

MRC Career Development Award

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