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Students launch new research journal

Press release issued: 14 October 2016

Students from the medical and dental schools of Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter and Plymouth have joined forces to launch a new journal that showcases original research undertaken in world-class laboratories and clinics by fellow students.

The ‘INSPIRE Student Health Sciences Research Journal’ is produced by a team of student editors from the four universities. It is a key part of a collaborative project under the national INSPIRE scheme funded by the Wellcome Trust and administered by the Academy of Medical Sciences.

The INSPIRE scheme aims to encourage student doctors, dentists and vets to consider a career in research, and encourages publication of their work. Since the scheme began in 2013 the southwest INSPIRE partnership has supported more than 70 vacation studentships as well as prize awards. Together with local matched funding, this has enabled students to undertake research projects under the supervision of senior scientists and clinicians.

Following a competition in 2015, a team of seven senior editors came together to set up the journal from scratch in order to provide a platform for publication of student project results, as well as to have direct experience of academic peer review.

“It has been a pleasure to collaborate with members of the four universities to put together this INSPIRE journal and I would like to thank all who have advised and contributed during the process. I hope it is useful for students to gain an insight into the types of projects they can get involved in and the opportunities available, whatever stage they are at in their studies,” said senior editor Izabella Smolicz, formerly at the University of Bristol Medical School and now in Year 4, Medicine, University College London.

Dr Liz Coulthard, Consultant Senior Lecturer in Dementia Neurology at the University of Bristol, said: “The students have shown great initiative leading this project. It has been fantastic to watch them develop editorial and critical skills that will stand them in good stead for future academic careers.”

Colin Dayan, Professor of Clinical Diabetes and Metabolism at Cardiff University, said: “We believe the INSPIRE journal is the first of its kind to bring together medical, dental and veterinary students from 4 different Universities in such an ambitious research writing project. It started from an idea from students in 2014 and had taken 2 years to realise, but the final product is an outstanding showcase of science writing and primary research from students at different stages in their careers.”

Tamsin Ford, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Exeter, said: “INSPIRE has provided a unique platform from which we have successfully encouraged students to get involved in research; we are extremely grateful to the Wellcome Trust and Academy of Medical Sciences for supporting the students and us with this scheme.”

David Parkinson, Professor of Neuroscience at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, said: “The INSPIRE journal has involved students from four different universities working together to review, edit and publish a completely new student-focussed scientific journal. Their hard work has led to the publication of the journal, which showcases the excellent research carried out by their fellow students.”

The first issue of the journal is available online, and includes reports about stress in neurosurgeons, efforts to tackle high numbers of maternal deaths in India, tooth donation and the future of dentistry, the development of new diagnostic tests for Addison’s disease in dogs, and development of a laboratory cell culture system for studying the kidney disease cystinuria. There are also interviews with leading academic researchers about their chosen careers and conference reports on topics including human fertility.

The student-led journal is one of many local and regional activities involving partnership between the universities of Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter and Plymouth. Besides vacation studentships, activities include an intercalators’ conference each October at which students can hear about opportunities to study for a science degree, and hear about the experiences of previous intercalating students.

Further information

To download the first issue of the journal for free and to find out more, see the INSPIRE project pages for the following Medical Schools:

University of Bristol - leads: Drs Tony Pickering, Wellcome Senior Clinical Fellow in the School of Physiology and Pharmacology, and Liz Coulthard, Consultant Senior Lecturer in Dementia Neurology.

University of Cardiff - lead: Colin Dayan, Professor of Clinical Diabetes and Metabolism.

University of Exeter - leads: Tamsin Ford, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Joanna Tarr, Lecturer, Medical Sciences.

Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry - leads: Dr Vehid Salih, Reader in Oral & Dental Health Research, and David Parkinson, Professor of Neuroscience.

To join the mailing list or submit an article idea, contact the editors of INSPIRE Student Health Sciences Journal, email




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