About the Specialty
Experimental Medicine and Immunotherapeutics (EMIT) division aims to train clinicians in the proper execution of clinical trials. Clinical Pharmacology is a small but important specialty. In Cambridge its infrastructure has been secured and recently expanded with the award of a Welcome Trust translational medicine (TMAT) programme of £5.5 million.
Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (CPT) training can be undertaken either alone or alongside another specialty in medicine – currently GIM/Acute Medicine or an organ-based specialty. Several current trainees in Cambridge are training for CPT with endocrinology or nephrology or CPT with GIM. The CPT programmes themselves are based entirely in Cambridge.
In the Clinical Pharmacology part of the training, the emphasis is on learning how to do more with drugs than just use them safely. In the language of translational medicine it will familiarise trainees with all aspects of drug development and use – from ‘bench to bedside and back again’. A substantial part of the training is more academic than in other specialties.
Attractions of the Specialty
Experimental Medicine and Immunotherapeutics (EMIT) will appeal to those who want a very varied training, with as much time as possible under their own control, rather than dedicated to completing a necessary number of manual procedures. The techniques which are taught in Cambridge are a number of non-invasive cardiovascular ones, such as those used to measure arterial stiffness and endothelial function reflecting the cardiovascular interest of the department.
With the academic and research bias of CPT a high proportion of Clinical Pharmacologists are aiming (often very successfully) for a career as academic physicians. Many of our trainees complete a training fellowship (BHF or MRC) leading to a PhD/MD during their programme and this is likely to increase under the TMAT programme. The TMAT programme establishes an MPhil in translational medicine that will be available as an option for CPT trainees.
The Cambridge unit has strong links with GSK that has a phase I and experimental medicine unit embedded in theAddenbrooke’s Centre for Clinical Investigation (that houses the Clinical Pharmacology Unit in Cambridge). Trainees will usually spend six-12 months seconded to this Unit to gain first-hand experience in the design and execution of drug studies especially ‘first into man’ studies.
The clinical interest of the consultants in Cambridge focuses on hypertension and cardiovascular risk, especially endocrine and genetic hypertension, and the trainees have the opportunity of becoming expert in the management of conditions such as familial hypertension, phaeochromocytoma and Conn’s syndrome. A new frontier of EMIT is the conduct of trials in the vasculitides, and we hope to train clinicians in the execution of large scale, international collaboratives in the arena.
Apart from an academic exit, our recent trainees have gone onto NHS consultant posts in their organ-based specialty, Acute Medicine or even the pharmaceutical industry.
Training programmes in CPT lead usually to a CCT in Clinical Pharmacology with level 2 competencies in GIM (four year programme from ST3). Programmes are also available that lead to a CCT in CPT plus GIM/Acute Medicine or CPT plus an organ-based speciality. The total lengths of these programmes are five and six years respectively from ST3 entry.
Detailed guidance on the Clinical Pharmacology curriculum and assessment blueprint is available from the JRCPTB website.
Qualifications for ST3 Entry
- Completion of a Core Medical Training programme or equivalent
- Documented evidence of achievement of level 1 competencies in general internal medicine (acute) and generic curricula
- Documented evidence of completion of full MRCP(UK) Examination
- BSc in a Biomedical Science would be useful. A background in Pharmacology is also not necessary but useful