Learning the benefits of PPI

Translate MedTech’s Secondment Scheme is designed to develop the innovation skills and translational capability of medical technology researchers in the Leeds City Region. This article is part of a series that showcases the impact that secondments have had on medtech research, as recounted from the secondee’s perspective.

Due to the success of the scheme, it is being run again in 2020. To find out how to apply for Translate secondment funding for your medtech research, click here.

Name: Patrick Lawson-Statham
Host organisation during the secondment: Versus Arthritis

Patrick Lawson-Statham is two years into his PhD research, looking at using decellularized tissue from pigs to regenerate a patient’s own cartilage following damage caused by osteoarthritis. 

Through Translate MedTech, Patrick secured a 12-week secondment to Versus Arthritis, a national charity committed to improving the lives of people living with arthritis. Here’s what he had to say about the opportunity:

“I heard about the secondment opportunity in the Research Liaison and Evaluation team at Versus Arthritis during a staff meeting and thought it sounded really interesting.

After discussing it with my supervisor, Dr Hazel Fermor, I arranged to talk to Mohua Siddique, Translate MedTech’s Innovation Development Officer. She was brilliant, helping me put a strong application together.

I had an interview at Versus Arthritis, and shortly after, Mohua let me know I’d been successful. It was a very easy, smooth process.

The secondment allowed me to spend two days per week, with travel expenses, at the charity’s Chesterfield offices. I also visited the London office and had to travel up and down the UK a fair bit too.

The Research Liaison and Evaluation team has a wide variety of functions, including liaising with Versus Arthritis-funded researchers across the UK and providing research information to other teams across the charity, such as communications and fundraising.

Day to day, my role covered collecting, collating, translating and sharing information and data about funded research to whoever needed it, both internally and externally.

I was also tasked with producing a booklet to encourage and guide researchers through the basics of incorporating Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) into their research. PPI is a key requirement of all research funded by the charity.

This was a really interesting and valuable project. I gained experience and managed activities that I’d never done before – interviewing patients, writing case studies, organising photography, liaising with graphic designers to structure the content and layout.

I’ve really enjoyed seeing how the booklet developed; in fact, while my secondment officially finished in July, I’m going to stay involved as it’s so close to being printed and I really want to see it completed!

Having learned so much about the benefits of PPI, I realised that my own research lacked a PPI element, and have already taken steps to address that.

I’ve spoken to a colleague at the university and we’re getting the ball rolling on involving a patient in my research. It’s definitely something that I’ll carry forward in my research career.  

Before the secondment, everything I did was purely research-focused and in the laboratory. The secondment has given me a wider perspective of research and an appreciation of how the skills I have can be applied in my future career.

I’ve translated research into lay language, run focus groups, worked with patients and delivered presentations, so it’s helped me communicate my research to non-scientific audiences much better. 

I also learned a great deal about the grant application, evaluation and approval process at Versus Arthritis. Gaining insight from a funder’s perspective, together with my greater understanding of the importance of PPI, will definitely help me to strengthen future grant applications. 

Overall, it’s been a fantastic and highly beneficial experience. I’m extremely grateful to Translate for enabling this opportunity to develop both personally and professionally. If another secondment opportunity arose, I’d jump at the chance.

On the secondment, Dr Katherine Free, Research Engagement Manager at Versus Arthritis, said: “We find the secondments extremely enjoyable and valuable and they give researchers an idea of other career choices beyond academia and industry.

Patrick was a joy to work with and he made the booklet project his own, bringing some really creative ideas and improvements to the table.

The end result will be a valuable resource for many researchers around the UK, and make the research we fund more relevant to the ultimate beneficiary – people with arthritis.”


If you could benefit from support while progressing a medical technology towards commercialisation, or if you want to develop innovation skills then consider applying for a Translate MedTech secondment.

Our latest call is open to applications, and further detail can be found on our website here. You can also contact Mohua Siddique with any questions you might have about the scheme.