Government recognises Tommy’s vital role in nurturing research careers with more than £500,000 in funding

We’re pleased to announce we’ve been awarded a share of £45 million in funding for our Early Career Researchers from the UKRI’s Medical Research Charity Support fund alongside 80 other medical research charities

We’re excited to announce we’ve received more than £500,000 in funding towards our early career researchers to support their work and continued development to become the leaders of tomorrow in pregnancy research.  

The funding has been awarded to 19 of our PhD students, research midwives and scientists across our 4 research centres. This vital funding supports our team to not only carry out their life-changing work, but to develop skills through further training and development opportunities. 

We know that for every £1 spent on maternity care in the NHS, only 1p is spend on pregnancy research, so we're delighted to benefit from this fund. Support for our early career researchers like this means they can continue to develop into leading scientists in their field and carry out life-changing research for families affected by pregnancy complications and baby loss. 

We talked to 2 of our early career researchers to find out what the funding means to them.  

Becoming a specialist centre for families across the UK

Chloe Brady is a postdoctoral researcher at our Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre in Manchester. Her research focuses on chronic histiocytic intervillositis (CHI), a rare condition of the placenta which causes miscarriage or stillbirth and has a devastating impact on families.  

Chloe Brady

“Despite the severity of CHI, many people are not aware of the condition,” says Chloe. “There are only a handful of centres in the UK with ongoing research into causes and treatments, so my research looking at particular treatments to reduce the severity of CHI and prevent it coming back in later pregnancies is so important.”

The work Chloe has done to improve knowledge of CHI has helped make our centre in Manchester a place that families across the UK can turn to for specialist support if they experience a loss from the condition.  

“Funding for my research has meant I’ve been able to begin more in-depth analysis of how genes might be playing a role in causing CHI. I can then also find different targets for future treatments. Funding for my role has also meant I have been able to see the first-hand impact of my research through implementing new treatments for families affected by CHI through the Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic. Knowing I’m making a difference to couples who have lost babies is incredibly rewarding.”

Inspiring the next generation of scientists  

Moonsun Bharj is a PhD student at our National Centre for Preterm Birth Research, based at Queen Mary University of London. Her research focuses on using data analysis techniques to understand which risk factors for premature birth need to be monitored most closely in pregnancy. She also wants to find out which of these factors can be used to indicate that earlier intervention is needed to improve outcomes for mums and babies.  

“We know that thousands of babies are born early every year, and this can have long lasting impacts on both physical and mental health” says Moonsun. “Data driven research like mine can help inform health policies, allowing policy makers to make the best decisions to inform clinical practice and new research funding.”

Moonsun says that funding for her PhD through UKRI and the Tommy’s centre means she is surrounded by a strong network of world-class academics.  

“My fantastic supervisors are experts in this area of research, and really take the time to provide advice and constant support. Funding for my PhD means I’m able to attend courses and training to enhance my skills and keep up to date with the latest developments in my field."

 Moonsun Bharji

For Moonsun, she hopes to not only help healthcare professionals to better identify and manage high risk pregnancies but also to encourage others who may be considering becoming scientists.  

“I want to inspire the future generation of students to consider pursuing a career in research by showing what a huge impact you can make for people in need.”  

Kate Davies, Director of Research, Information and Policy said: 

We're hugely proud that the government has recognised the role we play in growing the next generation of scientists and leading the way in pregnancy research in the UK. Our research is entirely funded by our incredible supporters and grants such as this, without which we couldn't do the work we do. 

Our early career researchers, like Chloe and Moonsun, are vital in our mission to make pregnancy and birth safe, for everyone.

We are grateful to all those involved with making this funding available to support researchers across our centres.