UCLan academic becomes one of the UK’s first physiotherapists to receive national fellowship

23 April 2020

Dr Rachel Stockley awarded the UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) academic has become one of the first physiotherapists in the country to receive a prestigious national research fellowship. 

Dr Rachel Stockley, from UCLan’s Stroke Research Team, has just been awarded the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowship.

Her research project is entitled Delivering the Digital Ambition: Exploring how we can design, implement and evaluate digital technologies in healthcare. It will look at harnessing the potential of health technologies to improve rehabilitation after people have suffered a stroke.

"The award recognises UCLan’s strength and depth in applied research and particularly the expertise and world-class reputation of the stroke research team."

Dr Stockley, who also becomes the first UCLan academic to receive this award, said: “I am very excited to receive the fellowship as it allows me to think and work across traditional disciplinary boundaries which I believe is necessary to tackle complex problems.

“I am looking forward to building new skills in digital design, health technologies and advanced research leadership, which will enhance my knowledge and skills in healthcare. I am excited to make new interdisciplinary networks alongside delivering an ambitious, but much needed, research project which I believe will deliver real benefit for people who have a stroke.”

The fellowship, worth just under £1.2 million pounds, will provide the equivalent of four years’ full-time funding to build a small team, cover research costs and fund a diverse package of training and travel as well as a range of opportunities to influence both the national and global research and innovation agenda.

Dr Rachel Stockley
Dr Rachel Stockley

She will work with fellow UCLan academics Professor Dame Caroline Watkins, Professor of Stroke and Older People’s Care; Dr Beverly Ellis, Academic Lead in Health Informatics; and Dr Dan Fitton, Lecturer in Interaction Design. They will be joined by two national and international professors along with staff and patients from Lancashire Teaching Hospital NHS Trust.

The experienced neurological physiotherapist and senior research fellow said: “The project will tackle a very complex problem by enabling us to understand how we can design, develop and implement digital health technologies into clinical practice and enable us to harness the potential of technology to transform healthcare.

“I am hugely passionate about stroke rehabilitation and believe that if we can successfully use digital technologies to help us provide more evidence based therapy to people after stroke, we could make a huge difference to the outcomes of stroke survivors both in the UK and globally.”

She added: “The award recognises UCLan’s strength and depth in applied research and particularly the expertise and world-class reputation of the stroke research team. Personally, as an allied health professional and physiotherapist, I believe that the award highlights the potential that health professionals have in transforming the wider research and innovation agenda and driving visionary global research that makes a real difference to practice.”

Future Leader Fellowships is a £900 million fund that is helping to establish the careers of world-class research and innovation leaders across UK business and academia. The Fellowships were announced by the Secretary of State in June 2018. This cross-UK Research and Innovation scheme supports researchers and innovators with outstanding potential in universities, UK registered businesses, and other research and user environments including research councils' institutes and laboratories. The support will enable each fellow to tackle ambitious and challenging research and innovation and develop their own careers.