Transformative NIHR award for Professor Reecha Sofat


The University of Liverpool’s Professor Reecha Sofat is one of six outstanding researchers to have been awarded National Institute for Health anfd Care (NIHR) Research Professorships, it was announced today (20 November 2023).

The NIHR Research Professorships scheme funds and supports research leaders of the future. It aims to strengthen and benefit health, public health and care research leadership.

Professor Sofat, who is Breckenridge Chair of Clinical Pharmacology and Head of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University, was awarded the Professorship to further her CAUsal Inference Methods to Inform MedicineS ReguLation and Guidance (CAUSAL) research.

Describing her research, she said: “The ‘gold standard’ way to get evidence of medicines effectiveness and safety is through a randomised clinical trial. These reduce bias and allow us to truly assess if a medicine is useful in the treatment of a certain condition. However, there are circumstances where either trials cannot be done - for example rare disease where only small numbers of individuals are affected by a condition – or, the participants in the trial are not representative of the population in which the medicine is eventually used in for example children, pregnant women, individuals of different ethnicities.

“This is problematic as the medicines may not have the same effect or may vary in safety across different groups. In these circumstances we often use observational data to understand differences. However, the interpretation of observational data can be limited because of bias. There are new statistical methods and additional data (e.g. genetics) that can be used to overcome some of these biases in large observational data. Working in partnership with the MHRA my research will focus on using these methods in routinely collected health data to demonstrate how these methods can enable the better, safer, fairer use of medicines and prioritise randomised trials.”

The award comprises a package of funding and extensive support. This includes three support posts and access to a leadership and development programme.

Professor Louise Kenny, Executive Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Liverpool’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences said: “We at University of Liverpool are delighted and proud to hear the news of Professor Reecha Sofat’s award of an NIHR Research professorship. Her work, at the interface of clinical pharmacology and data science, seeks to embed clinical research in routine care and in doing so, improve the way we make and use medicines. Her work is of critical importance to the NHS and compliments a long and illustrious legacy of world leading innovation in clinical pharmacology here in Liverpool. We are delighted to support her in this endeavour.”

Since 2011, 66 people have been successful in gaining the competitive award. Many have gone on to become senior research leaders. This includes Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care and CEO of the NIHR.

Professor Waljit Dhillo, Dean of the NIHR Academy and Scientific Director for Research Capacity and Capabilities, said: “I am delighted and honoured to welcome the latest group of outstanding researchers to the NIHR Research Professorship scheme. I look forward to seeing the difference their research will make to the lives of people and communities across the UK.

“The NIHR Research Professorship is one of the most prestigious awards we offer. Their expertise in health and care research will help improve people's health and wellbeing.”