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If you’re looking to take your first steps into research, our research funding call is a fantastic opportunity to receive a grant that will help you achieve your research aspirations.

To find out more about how funding can transform careers, we speak to two of our past recipients. Dr Megan Rutter and Dr Chris Wincup were both awarded grants in 2020 and here we catch up with them to see how the funding has supported their work.

A unique opportunity for rheumatology

Dr Wincup: As a junior doctor looking to go into research, it’s a nerve-wracking time and finding funding is always a challenge. There’s not much out there specifically for rheumatology at a junior level. We’re usually in general funding pots and often competing with more common issues like cancer and heart disease. BSR’s research funding call is a unique opportunity because it’s specifically targeted at our specialty.

Dr Rutter: The call was perfectly pitched for trainees at my level. I was hoping to start a PhD but needed a starter grant to have some research output so I could then apply for research fellowships.

Funding innovative projects

Dr Rutter: My research has involved looking at COVID-19 outcomes; infection, hospitalisation and mortality in people with rare autoimmune diseases. What we’ve found is that during the first wave of the pandemic, patients with these conditions were at increased risk of infection and had twice the risk of death related to COVID-19 infection.

Dr Wincup: I was doing my PhD looking at immune changes in lupus. It was starting to come together, and I had new ideas about using novel technology, but it was too expensive. This grant has allowed me to do some new high-risk research. I’m using this cutting-edge technology in lupus samples before patients have had treatment for the first time. These precious samples will help us learn more about very early disease.

A stepping-stone to further research funding

Dr Wincup: My research is a work in progress, but the grant has certainly helped me to build on my ideas. I’ve linked up with a leading immunology lab and we’re applying for further funding together to add to this project. It’s also helped me to speak to other people and engage with different experts.

Dr Rutter: BSR has been incredibly supportive throughout my grant and it’s kickstarted my research career. Subsequently, I’ve been awarded a Versus Arthritis clinical research fellowship which is allowing me to continue my research and work towards completing my PhD.

Transforming careers

Dr Rutter: The funding from BSR was truly instrumental. I wouldn’t be in my position now if I hadn’t applied and been awarded this grant. It’s really changed the trajectory of my career and is leading on to further funding opportunities.

Dr Wincup: As a trainee early in my research career, being awarded the grant is a big deal. It’s enhanced my CV, given me a confidence boost and allowed me to trust in my own ideas. The grant has allowed me to get started on this exciting new research project and I’m looking forward to where it leads.

Find out more about our research funding call and how to apply. Applications close on 23 June.