Plymouth Specialised Foundation Programmes


Why Plymouth?

We are excited to announce the start of our Specialised Foundation Programme (SFP) in Plymouth with three posts in strong clinical academic departments. This will complement the established Integrated Academic Training programme for Academic Clinical Fellows and Clinical Lecturers (

The University of Plymouth and University Hospitals Plymouth work in close partnership to develop and deliver high quality research. We conduct adventurous world-leading research with the explicit purpose of improving the health and care of our community.  Research and collaboration activities are underpinned by access to an impressive range of cutting-edge facilities, including the Derriford Research Facility, the Brain Research & Imaging Centre, and the Peninsula Clinical Trials Unit, which allows for interdisciplinary collaboration between medical, dental and biomedical researchers at the university and with research clinicians from the trust. 

Programme Structure

SFP trainees will undergo a standard FY1 clinical rotation. In FY2, the trainee will have 4-month clinical placements in Renal Medicine and General Practice and a 4-month academic placement undertaking research as described below. The programme is designed to provide experience of a clinical academic environment and to develop generic research skills. This will suit both those interested in pursuing a clinical academic career and those interested in applying research skills to improve patient care in their clinical practice.

Support and Supervision

The academic blocks will be undertaken with careful supervision from experienced clinical academics with a track record of supervising clinical academic trainees. You will also be supported by a well-established Integrated Academic Programme hosted by the University of Plymouth. This includes administration support as well as opportunities to attend regular networking and development events that are held quarterly. All trainees are offered formal mentorship to support clinical academic career development. You will be paired with a senior clinical academic or clinical lecturer from a different specialty.

Objectives of the Programme

  1. To provide high quality clinical training in an outstanding clinical environment
  2. To provide training and experience in aspects of research from design and methodology to delivery
  3. To develop generic research skills including critical appraisal, data analysis and scientific writing
  4. To provide supervision and mentorship to support clinical academic career development

Research Projects


The burden of liver disease has been increasing for several decades driven by alcohol use and unhealthy lifestyles. More than 30% of the UK population have chronic liver disease ranging from fatty liver to advanced cirrhosis and liver cancer. The Hepatology Research Group ( has a broad portfolio of research projects ranging from biomarker development for alcohol-related hepatitis to testing interventions for people with liver disease including psychological therapy for alcohol dependence and dietary therapy to reduce the risk of liver failure after liver resection.

The SFP trainee will undertake a project aligned to the current research programme of the group. The trainee will be trained to conduct a systematic review. Recent students and trainees have completed systematic reviews on trial retention in alcohol-related liver disease, the effect of short-chain fatty acids on liver disease and the effect of zinc on mortality in people with alcohol-related cirrhosis. The trainee will also have the opportunity to work with the laboratory researchers on a small project based around the precision-cut liver slice model, which uses human tissue samples to model liver disease and test interventions.

The project will be supervised by Ashwin Dhanda (Academic Hepatologist;, Integrated Academic Training Programme Lead and expert in alcohol-related liver disease.


Peri-operative care

Professor Dan Martin ( leads the peri-operative and intensive care medicine research group ( He is leading an NIHR-funded trial to fully evaluate an exercise intervention in high-risk patients awaiting a liver transplantation. Having completed work funded by the National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia to study mitochondrial function in high risk, multi-morbid surgical patients, the group are exploring physiological mechanisms that underlie the development of complications.  Other innovative research areas include the value of novel preoperative interventions in high-risk multi-morbid patients such as intermittent hypoxia, intermittent fasting, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to “train” the autonomic nervous system, and remote ischaemic preconditioning.

The SFP trainee will be supervised by Dan Martin to conduct a project based around ongoing research in the field of perioperative care. This may include conducting a systematic review or completing a substudy of an ongoing project.



It is well recognised that patients with chronic subdural haematoma (CSDH) have an excess mortality when compared with age-matched controls, and this is exacerbated by increased frailty. One study found that cognitive function is worse in CSDH patients 3 months after operation, compared with healthy controls. Longer term, CSDH patients are also more likely to die from dementia than patients without CSDH.

This project would be aligned with other on-going work in the department assessing the role of frailty in CSDH and assessment of cognitive tools. The SFP trainee would be trained in systematic review skills, performing a review on multi-morbidity in CSDH and be supported to run a short project assessing multi-morbidity and cognitive function in local CSDH patients, both operative and conservative, where data is currently lacking. This would include development of skills in obtaining informed consent, patient recruitment and the utility of different clinical tools assessing cognition and frailty.

This project will be supported by Ellie Edlmann (Clinical lecturer in Neurosurgery;, who has a track record in clinical studies in CSDH and Victoria Haunton (Academic Elderly Care Physician; who has extensive experience in assessment of cognitive impairment and management of multi-morbidity in older people.