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The Awards Panel and the benefits of Society awards

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Published: 24 Nov 2021

One of the many benefits of being a member of the British Pharmacological Society is that it gives you the opportunity to apply for our prizes and awards, which help to support members throughout their careers and recognise their contributions to advancing pharmacology.

The Society’s Awards Panel advises Council on all matters relating to our prizes and awards. They assess applications throughout the year, sometimes assisted by other groups, such as Clinical Committee and the Early Career Pharmacology Advisory Group.

Our infographic below summarises our awards in 2020.

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The panel is chaired by the President-Elect – currently Professor Clive Page – and typically comprises around 13 members from various research backgrounds and career stages. This includes representation from clinical, industry and early career members. Members serve a 3-year term (which can be renewed for a further 3 years) and meet twice a year. New members bring fresh ideas, perspectives, and experiences, which helps the panel to monitor and improve awards, ultimately benefitting prospective and successful applicants.

Early career members can access a range of funding for career support, from the undergraduate Vacation Studentship to the post-doctoral Pickford Award. If you would like to express an interest in joining Awards Panel, please get in touch with me (Paul Tizard) at membership@bps.ac.uk. We are currently looking for a new clinical member to join but welcome expressions of interest from all members.

Dr Nura Mohamed, one of our recent recipients of the Pickford Award, recently got in touch to thank the Society for its support. Nura emphasises the benefits not just of our awards, but also Society membership in general in terms of networking, collaboration, and career progression.

Dr Nura Mohamed

“As an Early Career Researcher (ECR), I have always wanted to work in and influence my area of interest, bringing new ideas and hypotheses. However, it is not always easy for ECRs to build independent research careers, as we need great links, collaborations, support, and acceptance, and it can be hard to find all these things in the same place.

In my opinion, Societies like the British Pharmacological Society are important for ECRs, as one of their main aims is to help ECRs develop as scientists and reach their goals. Many ECRs like myself consider these Societies safe environments to discuss ideas, address problems, meet world leaders in their research areas, and collaborate with prestigious research institutes from all over the world.

I have been a member of the British Pharmacological Society since 2012 and I became a member of the Early Career Pharmacologist Advisory Group (also known as ECPAG) in 2018. Since joining ECPAG I have been involved in many of the Society’s activities.

After my PhD, I secured an honorary research officer contract from Imperial College London and received a postdoctoral research award from the Qatar Foundation. This award did not include a consumable budget, however, so in 2018 I successfully applied for the Society’s Pickford Award. This award provides opportunities for ECRs with promising novel projects to pursue their research. The funding allowed me to move my research forward and reach a point where I could apply for larger grants. The research resulted in a novel publication and helped me to continue my research during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another award the Society offers to support ECRs is the Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award – a collaboration between the British Pharmacological Society and the Australasian Society for Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists (ASCEPT). This award supports a three-week research visit to Australia.

I decided to apply for this award after I presented an abstract at Pharmacology 2019. Whilst preparing my application, I reached out to expert researchers and labs in nanomedicine in Australia, which is where I made contact with Dr Christina Bursill and her team at University of Adelaide. My application was subsequently unsuccessful, but I kept in touch with Dr Bursill and we are now collaborating through a prestigious international fund that we were recently awarded. This will mark the start of a new chapter in my research career.

In my opinion, Societies like the BPS are so important for ECRs as they help to open doors to new possibilities that we might never have otherwise come across. Carving an independent research path is not an easy task and I have seen many ECRs leave research due to the pressure.

I have personally found the stress-free, accepting environment created by the BPS a great help for easing that pressure and building collaborations with world-leader researchers who can help me become an independent researcher. One day, I hope to pay this forward to future ECRs."

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Published: 24 Nov 2021

About the author

Paul Tizard

Paul has been with the Society since 2001. After several years in the British Journal of Pharmacology’s Editorial Office, he moved to the membership team and now manages all aspects of membership and awards. He continues to be the point of contact for members and fellows.

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