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16 March 2021

Two King's academics nominated for BMA role models

Professor Lucy Chappell, NIHR Research Professor in Obstetrics, and Dr Caroline Jolley, Senior Lecturer in Human Physiology, have been nominated as the British Medical Association (BMA) role models for Women in Academic Medicine.

BMA Women in Academic Medicine

They are two of fifteen role models nominated. The role models seek to highlight the individuals who are inspiring others to pursue careers in academic medicine and to increase the visibility of their work.

Professor Lucy Chappell, who has recently been appointed as an NIHR Senior Investigator, runs a research programme investigating prediction and prevention of adverse pregnancy outcomes, particularly in women with pre-existing co-morbidities such as chronic hypertension and chronic kidney disease.

She told the BMA: “There were very few clinical academics who were working mothers in my specialty when I was training, and even fewer who were visible, as many of us felt that it would harm our careers to let on that we had a world outside of work. But a few key people provided quiet encouragement.”

She also spoke about the challenges of having caring responsibilities. She said: “There are still glass ceilings and sticky floors in clinical academic medicine. In my experience, women rarely move around and across countries in the same way that men at the same stage do, usually for personal, family and caring responsibility reasons. But I have tried to make the most of opportunities that have come my way.”

Dr Caroline Jolley is a respiratory clinician with a specialist interest in the physiology of breathlessness in advanced respiratory disease. She is also the Science Lead for the MBBS Year 2 Supporting Life module in the GKT School of Medical Education and is responsible for delivering basic and clinical respiratory physiology teaching to first year medical students, physiotherapists, biomedical science students and even to aspiring astronauts on the CHAPS Space Physiology and Aviation Medicine courses. She also leads her own research team in the Department of Respiratory Medicine, King’s College Hospital.

She told the BMA: “Clinical career structures are very rigid, with little scope for those who wish to follow a non-traditional path. Having taken two periods of maternity leave, and negotiated a self-funded extended period of research alongside my clinical training, I have had first-hand experience of the difficulties associated with a ‘non-traditional’ path.

“I have lost count of the number of times that I have been told that there was ‘no precedent’ for what I wanted to achieve. I met this challenge by working hard to demonstrate that I could exceed the clinical and academic milestones necessary to progress, and by having the confidence to challenge decisions made based on lack of precedent.”

Read the full interviews with Professor Chappell and Dr Jolley here.

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Lucy Chappell

NIHR Research Professor in Obstetrics