Thinking of spending some time in a research post? Prof Amaka Offiah has some advice.
Dr Amaka C Offiah BSc, MBBS, MRCP, FRCR, PhD
RCR Roentgen Professor 2013
My route into academia was somewhat atypical. I trained in Nigeria, at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and was the first in that medical school to undertake an intercalated BSc – in Physiology.
After graduating, I came to England and had to pass PLAB before applying for a job in medicine. I did “housejobs” and medical SHO rotations at Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, leaving there for Sheffield with my MRCP.
My radiology training was in Sheffield. Although initially considering interventional radiology, during my training I developed an interest in both musculoskeletal and paediatric radiology.
Towards the end of my 4th year of training, Great Ormond Street Hospital advertised a one-year fellowship, for which I applied. When they realised my interest in child abuse and skeletal dysplasias, I was offered the opportunity to undertake a PhD, while at the same time benefitting from the teaching of internationally recognized child abuse and skeletal dysplasia expert, Professor Christine Hall.
Both my BSc and PhD were thoroughly enjoyable experiences; offering
- A level of independence that clinical medicine does not give (therefore self-motivation is required)
- The challenge of designing studies that will answer difficult questions (there is no gold standard for diagnosing child abuse)
- The gratification of answering those questions (sometimes) and providing new knowledge that impacts positively on health outcomes (again – sometimes).
I took the decision to continue in research and was fortunate enough to be awarded a HEFCE clinical senior lecturer position at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, where I have now been for just over three years.
Research and Radiology Trainees
I think it is important for radiology trainees to understand that they do not have to make a black/white decision over whether to pursue a clinical or an academic career. It is possible (although hard work) to be a full-time NHS consultant with significant research output.
The RCR has recognized the importance of research throughout a doctor’s career, and since August 2012, all radiology trainees must undergo research activity in one form or another.
If they haven’t done so already, then I would advise trainees to read the RCR research recipe book available at
Those trainees considering an academic career should first discuss this with their Head of Training and with clinical academics – not necessarily only academic radiologists (academic clinicians in fields related to the trainee’s area of interest may provide useful information even if only limited to their personal experience of a research career in today’s financial climate, but may also be aware of relevant funding opportunities, fellowships etc.).
Usually, a trainee will have some idea of the subspecialty in which they wish to work (or even the precise research question they would like to address). If this is the case, they might then find it useful to discuss their ideas with an academic radiologist working in a similar area. To this end, the RCR research map is a useful resource, providing a summary of UK academic radiologists, their area of research and contact details.
For those trainees who have decided on an academic career, there are optional research fellowships both nationally and internationally, the major ones within the UK being
- Cancer Research UK (in partnership with the RCR)
- Medical Research Council (in partnership with the RCR)
- National Institute for Health Research (several options depending on seniority)
- Academic Clinical Fellowship
- Academic Clinical Lectureship
- HEFCE senior lecturer
More information about academic radiology including sources of funding can be found on the RCR’s website at