UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences


Accelerating healthcare innovation through training and career development

UCL's Translational Training Manager, Kim Gurwitz, reflects on 18 months of the ACCELERATE programme, which inspires 100s of researchers to positively impact healthcare through translational research.

Translational research aims to unlock the potential of research innovation for the benefit of healthcare by translating research from “bench to bedside”. 

ACCELERATE, UCL’s Translational Research Training Programme, provides training and development opportunities for researchers interested in translational research. Since its launch 18 months ago, the programme has hosted 37 events across 12 initiatives with over 400 participants, in total. 


The modular, flexible programme helps researchers from all disciplines - not just medical sciences - learn more about translational research and is positively influencing research culture by demystifying how to translate ideas into healthcare applications. ACCELERATE also supports researchers to learn and practise skills that enable this process. The initiatives are wide-ranging and form a diverse portfolio of opportunities where participants can engage. These engagement opportunities range from technical training on various topics (such as intellectual property and data management); skills development for grant writing and pitching ideas; and spaces for innovative thinking through mentoring and teamwork. 

Here are the highlights from ACCELERATE this year: 

  1. We supported early career researchers to win funding 

In collaboration with UCL Therapeutic Innovation Networks, we supported early career researchers to write grants and pitch their ideas. This has helped over 30 applicants to win funding to support their translational research projects. One applicant commented that their “pitch was transformed by the training”. The panelists judging the pitches said that they were very impressed by the scientific quality and delivery of the presentations. 

  1. We created opportunities for deeper connections to form within the translational research community 

The ACCELERATE Innovation: Mentoring for Medical Innovation initiative, in partnership with the Collaboration for Advancement of Sustainable Medical Innovation (CASMI), pairs leaders in medical innovation with early career researchers. The initiative aims to build lasting relationships in the innovation ecosystem while giving early career researchers support to pursue translational research. We provided coaching and resources on mentoring practice to enrich the 6-month experience for both mentees and mentors. We received encouraging feedback from participants: 

“My mentor has been so helpful. They helped me to meet relevant people for my project, they helped with taking ideas to the next step. Knowing that I would meet with them in a few weeks made me feel accountable to finish tasks that I could postpone. They made me feel energised and with their support I was more resilient.” ~ ACCELERATE Mentee. 

  1. We reached a wider audience with our online, self-paced, open-access short course 

ACCELERATE Potential: An Introduction to Translational Research covers the basics of translational research, how to get started, and where to find support. Over 100 individuals have already signed up. The course is open to all and free of charge – go on, sign up

“I feel I have a much better grasp of translational research at UCL after having completed the course. I particularly enjoyed the videos and the animation, and I applaud the amount of work that has gone into creating this course.” ~ ACCELERATE Potential Course Participant. 

ACCELERATE presents ACCELERATE Potential. 

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  1. We promoted and supported interdisciplinary teams  

What happens when researchers from different backgrounds and disciplines put their expertise together to solve healthcare challenges? This is the idea behind the ACCELERATE Innovation: Team Challenge. Teams form in the first few weeks of this eight-week initiative and are supported with training, hands-on experience, and funding for their healthcare innovations. Round one of this exciting initiative is ongoing (May-July 2021) and we are looking forward to seeing the teams progress their ideas! 

  1. We worked collaboratively to develop training 

Central to the ACCELERATE philosophy is working with and highlighting the experts in translational research. Rather than reinventing the wheel, our webpages signpost to expert resources across UCL. And where gaps exist, we collaborate with others to create training initiatives and resources. For the online short course called ACCELERATE Potential, we collaborated with representatives from over 25 teams across the university and industry partners in the UK. In another example, we collaborated with UCL Public EngagementPatient and Public Research Panel Members from the NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Unit, and UCL researchers to develop training resources to support ‘involving patients and the public in research’. The team recently blogged about the experience to highlight the importance of engaging stakeholders, which is a key component of translational research. 

What’s next for ACCELERATE? 

ACCELERATE is continuously adapting to new challenges and opportunities in the research community to keep supporting the needs of researchers. We want to hear from you – how can we help you get your research into healthcare? For more information on our programme and to let us know about your questions and ideas, check out the ACCELERATE website or browse upcoming events

ACCELERATE is a joint venture between the UCL Academic Careers Office and the UCL Translational Research Office. The programme is supported by the Wellcome Trust and the NIHR UCLH Biomedical Research Centre.