Linked Programmes

SPARC success for DiaDeM Researchers

Three early career researchers from the DiaDeM Research Programme – Ms Nida Afsheen, Ms Najma Hayat and Ms Kousar Ishaq – have been awarded a NIHR Global Health Research Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (SPARC). Congratulations on your achievement!

Researcher Nida working at her desk

We asked Nida Afsheen (pictured) to tell us more about her award. Nida joined the DiaDeM team in 2022 and is a Clinical Psychologist & Research Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, Rawalpindi Medical University, Rawalpindi.

Nida is currently working as the Behavioral Activation Lead for the DiaDeM Programme, leading the delivery of the behavioural activation (BA) intervention – a short psychological intervention – for people living with the multi-morbidity of diabetes and depression as part of the DiaDeM Clinical Trial.  Day-to-day Nida is busy managing and supervising Behavioral Activation Supervisors and Facilitators across all study sites in Pakistan (see study site graphic below).

Nida’s SPARC award will be hosted by Dr Hannah Jennings in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York. During her placement Nida will develop skills in different types of qualitative data analysis (narrative and phenomenology). Whilst in York, Nida will work with Faraz Siddiqi to complete phenomenology analysis of 18 qualitative interview transcripts exploring self-management and illness representations of people living with diabetes and depression in Pakistan.

During the placement, Nida will also attend two courses “An introduction to Qualitative Research Methods” at King’s College London and a creative methods course at the University of Southampton. She will attend regular seminars and workshops and join the Qualitative Researchers Forum and the Global Public Health Network at the University of York. Wishing you all the best for your placement Nida.

How NIHR supports career development

The NIHR Academy strengthens capacity by supporting the career development of NIHR-funded researchers at any stage of their career and it currently offers three funding schemes for global health researchers to improve their skills:

  • SPARC (Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration) for Academy Members
  • CADA (Cohort Academic Development Award) for Training Leads (new in 2022/23)
  • Global Research Professorships for academic leaders

Anyone who is funded or supported by an NIHR Global Health Research award is eligible to become an NIHR Academy Member. Members receive training to develop their careers, supported by Training Leads within each funded project.


Nida was awarded a Global Health Research Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (GHR SPARC) award.

The SPARC scheme offers NIHR GHR Academy members actively pursuing an academic research career an opportunity to apply for up to £10,000 to design and undertake a short bespoke placement.

The scheme is designed to optimise and enhance the individuals’ research training experience as well as their networks, CVs and academic career opportunities. Further information regarding the scheme, including the eligibility criteria, funding available and application and assessment process can be found in the guidance notes on the NIHR Website.


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