Published on 30/11/2023
Bioscience student swabbing a petri dish
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) awarded £1.68 million following a competitive process
  • The funding application was led by Dr Shakil Ahmad, with support from Dr Zaki Hassan-Smith and Professor Juan Alcolado
  • The schemes will allow students at Aston Medical School to complete another professional qualification during their medicine degree.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has granted £1.68 million to Aston Medical School to develop its intercalated degree and internship programmes.

Aston Medical School won the funding following a national competitive process involving other UK medical schools. Dr Shakil Ahmad, the intercalated degree lead, led the funding application, with support from Dr Zaki Hassan-Smith, the integrated academic training lead, and Professor Juan Alcolado, the dean of Medical Education.

The intercalated degree programme will allow Aston Medical School undergraduates to complete another professional qualification during their medical degree. These programmes have been designed to integrate areas such as neuroscience, biomedical engineering, and healthcare management, providing medical students with new opportunities to delve into the intersection of clinical practice, scientific research, and innovative healthcare solutions. 

Additionally, the funding will also enable Aston Medical School to offer a series of internships, allowing students to immerse themselves in cutting-edge research under the mentorship of leading academics and clinicians. These internships are part of Aston University's strategic framework to bridge the gap between academic research and practical healthcare, enhancing student experience and understanding of translational medicine.

In September 2023, the NIHR awarded Aston Medical School 12 prestigious NIHR-funded academic clinical fellow (ACF) posts, also following a competitive national funding round. Winning the funding for intercalated degrees and apprenticeships builds on this success and forms an important part of establishing integrated academic training in the medical school, for undergraduates as well as postgraduates.

Dr Ahmad said:

“I am immensely proud of Aston Medical School's achievement in securing this vital NIHR funding. This support empowers our mission to transform medical education and research. With this funding, we can nurture gifted and driven individuals, laying the groundwork for future leaders in healthcare and medical innovations.”

Find out more about Aston Medical School here

Notes to editors

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming the Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Helen Tunnicliffe, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7827 090240 or email:

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Sue Smith,
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Sam Cook,
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Helen Tunnicliffe,
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