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First RfPB funding awarded to PhD student

Justine Tomlinson, specialist pharmacist and doctoral training fellow, becomes the first doctoral training student to be awarded a Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) grant as chief investigator.

Justine started her career as a community pharmacist in 2010 and is now Pharmacy Doctoral Training Fellow in the Faculty of Life Sciences.  Her role involves spending a small part of her week at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which fulfils her dream of combining teaching and clinical practice.  In July 2018 Justine was awarded a RfPB grant of £152,056, less than a year into her 4-year PhD at the University of Bradford.

Justine’s interest lies in older people with long term conditions, namely type II diabetes and frailty, who have multiple medicines changes when they have a hospital stay, which can lead to confusion and anxiety after discharge. This often leads to re-admission or poorer quality of life. Her RfPB project involves investigating medicines-related care after discharge to explore the challenges they face and use their experiences to co-design methodology to create a new intervention to support post-discharge medicines management. To research this area, she required additional financial resources and began to look at funding options.

Portrait photo of Justine Tomlinson

Justine Tomlinson

Following advice from the NIHR Justine identified that her project timescales and requirements fit well with the criteria for the RfPB. To prepare, she attended training on writing a grant application, sought feedback from the Research Development office, Commercialisation team and spoke to colleagues experienced in bid writing. It took 6 months to write and involved a two-stage process during which the RfPB provided valuable feedback and support.

When Justine got the news of her success she said:

“I felt incredibly happy, lucky and grateful! I couldn’t wait to share the news with my patient and public involvement (PPI) group and co-applicants. And then the realisation set in that I am an NIHR grant holder. There’s an accountability that you feel – a pressure to perform. I think this is because it’s my first successful research award and I don’t want to disappoint the funders, my colleagues or PPI.”

Justine’s grant research is 30 months long and started in August 2018. It’s a daunting process but she gets regular mentoring support from her co-applicants: Dr Jon Silcock, Professor Alison Blenkinsopp (retired), Dr Beth Fylan, and Dr Kate Karban (retired) from the University of Bradford and external to the University: Heather Smith, Dr Judith Dyson, Sally Bower, Manoj Mistry and Sarah Humphrey.

Justine believes that her success is partly due to speaking to and involving as many people as possible in the writing process and ensuring she was following the correct procedures and guidelines.

Many congratulations to Justine! We are sure she will be an inspiration to other PhD students.

Justine's staff profile.



This independent research is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme (Grant Reference Number PB-PG-0317-20010). The views expressed are  those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.