BGS Rising Star Series: The sky’s the limit

Dr James Frith is a Clinical Senior Lecturer working in the Population Health Sciences Institute, Newcastle University. He is also a practising clinician, working as a Consultant Geriatrician in the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. James is Chair of the BGS Falls and Bones Special Interest Group. He was awarded the BGS Rising Star Award for Research in 2017. Follow all the tweets via #BGSRisingStar

It was of course an honour to receive the BGS Rising Star award, five years ago in 2017. An unexpected benefit of this was the photograph taken of the then President Dr Eileen Burns, presenting me with the award, which now appears regularly as a stock photo in BGS comms, reminding people that it was not so long ago that I had brown, not grey hair. At that time, I was nominated for my work on evaluating non-drug therapies for the treatment of orthostatic hypotension, specifically in older people. This was funded by the prestigious five-year NIHR Clinician Scientist fellowship. This would be an opportune moment to point out to Geriatric Medicine registrars that it was a BGS SpR Start-up Grant which provided the funds for me to gather supportive data for the fellowship application. I would encourage all registrars with an interest in research to consider applying for this. You do not have to be a career academic to apply.

The greatest personal advantage of receiving this award was the boost it gave my CV. While the publications section was pretty healthy, the awards and prizes section of my CV was completely empty. Going forth with the CV boosted, and with frailty and multimorbidity becoming more noticeable to the wider world, it opened doors. The first step was strategically becoming a committee member for an NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) research priority panel. Jump ahead a couple of years and I was awarded a HTA grant for a multi-site RCT of fludrocortisone, midodrine and non-drug therapies for the treatment of orthostatic hypotension (CONFORM-OH).  All was going well until Covid-19 hit and unfortunately the impact on staff and services is rather hampering the trial. If anyone is interested in involving a site in the trial, please get in touch.

I must send my gratitude to Professor Julia Newton and Dr Simon Kerr for nominating me five years ago. I’d also like to extend my gratitude to the family of Jim George who generously funded the Jim George Memorial prize. As a rule, geriatricians are a humble group who quietly beaver away in the background improving the lives of older people, with no expectation of thanks or reward. So I’m incredibly grateful to the BGS for commissioning such an award.

Finally, let us take a moment to remember my hugely popular colleague Dr Richard Dodds, who won the award in 2020 for the clinical and academic impact he made in the field of sarcopenia.


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