The government’s chief scientific officer Professor Sue Hill has announced the 10 healthcare scientists who have won the first batch of research fellowships for projects aiming to improve patient care.

Nearly 50 applications were received in the first round of the new annual Research Fellowship competition, in which the 10 winners will each gain a slice of a pie worth more than £1 million put up by the Department of Health to support the development of research capacity in healthcare science in the National Health Service.

According to Hill, competition for this first round of CSO Research Fellowships was “very keen”, and she said there were “many high quality applications from healthcare scientists working across a wide range of disciplines, illustrating the wealth of opportunities within the NHS for translational research to improve patient care using healthcare scientists' valuable expertise”.

The 2008 winning projects range from developing techniques to diagnose health conditions to improving patient care for diseases such as cancer and diabetes. For example, Jonathan Reeves, from the Clinical Physics Department, Barts and The London NHS Trust, was selected for his project to develop a miniature thermal as a diagnostic tool for studying oesophageal sensitivity. And Nigel Davies from University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust is working towards improving outcomes for teenagers and young adults with cancer through the development of new methods for non-invasive diagnosis and characterisation of brain tumours.

The CSO Research Fellowship Competition will run for another two years providing total funds of £4 million, which are designed to support winning research programmes as well as the postgraduate training needs of each research fellow, the DH said.

It has long been recognised that new ideas with the potential to boost treatment outcomes are not filtering through into the NHS quickly enough, and these Fellowships are one example of new strategies being employed by the government to help facilitate the translation of innovative ideas into practice throughout the Service, to ensure that it remains at the forefront of patient care.