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Building stronger bonds to deliver collaborative research and innovation

Professor Marion Walker has been appointed to a joint role between the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and NIHR ARC East Midlands. Marion currently works as the ARC EDI Committee Chair and has spent much of her career researching and leading stroke rehabilitation, becoming recognised as a world leading authority in this area.

I have been a key advocate for the outstanding work undertaken by the Applied Research Collaborations since their creation 13 years ago. Indeed, I have been proud to hold several leadership roles within the three consecutive funding rounds.

I now find myself appointed to a new leadership role positioned between the Applied Research Collaboration and the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network; a role that is full of promise and opportunity for even greater research and innovation impact.  As a Professor of Stroke Rehabilitation Research, building an evidence base has been my raison d’etre all my academic life and nothing makes me happier than when I see patients benefit from my research efforts. This has often taken a long time to realise, but I have been very fortunate to see the implementation of some of my research findings regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Sadly, the reality is that too small a proportion of research output finds its way to impact patient care. The need to embed robust evidence in the NHS and social care is critical for safe and successful patient recovery, and importantly to make optimal use of our workforce and finances. However, this transformation pipeline doesn’t happen easily or by chance.

The Role of AHSNs and implementing health innovation and evidence

The development of the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) was a needed missing link in the implementation and spread of evidence and innovation. Of course, there is much more to the work of each organisation but put simply ARCs develop the evidence base for priority areas of health care and the AHSN tests new innovations in the real world and then spreads and embeds the innovation across multiple geographical locations. A natural continuous pipeline from discovery and evaluation to implementation. Bringing our organisations together means we can enhance a real bench-to-bedside approach regarding innovation in research and deployment.

The impact of the ARC and EMAHSN collaboration

Although the interaction between ARCs and AHSNs has demonstrated pockets of real success, the East Midlands has recognised that a much stronger collaboration, and indeed the creation of this new post between both organisations, has the potential to have a much greater impact.

As East Midlands AHSN/ARC Collaboration Lead I will be the pivotal link between both organisations ensuring every opportunity is grasped and exploited for the benefit of better patient care.


Professor Marion Walker

East Midlands AHSN/ARC Collaboration lead

Emeritus Professor Stroke Rehabilitation

NIHR Emeritus Senior Investigator

Published on: 15 Nov 2022