We aim to close the translational gap between getting the proven results of research and implementing them in routine practice in the NHS. Rather than operating as a stand-alone programme, research is embedded in all of our work.
Our research approach fully integrates the complementary strategic objectives and requirements of our partnership’s designated roles as an Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC), Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), NIHR Clinical Research Network, NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) and Education.
The research projects we support fall into the three broad categories:
- To improve clinical trials performance and participation
- To close gaps in the translational research pathway – from bench to bedside
- To support and grow global centres of research excellence and leverage existing capabilities
Discovery and first in human
The members of our AHSC are unique in the field of discovery research and first in human trials, as together they host three of the 11 Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and two NIHR Biomedical Research Units (BRUs). Between them they attract an estimated £31 million per annum to experimental medicine. The BRCs and BRUs contribute to the work of the academic medical centres in the AHSC, for example:
- NIHR Moorfields BRC is partnered with the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in the Eyes and Vision Academic Medical Centre
- NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital BRC is partnered with the UCL Institute of Child Health in the Child Health Academic Medical Centre
BRCs are leaders in the scientific translation of fundamental biomedical research into clinical research for the benefit of patients. BRUs undertake translational clinical research in priority areas of high disease burden and clinical need.
NIHR BRCs and BRUs hosted by UCLPartners members are:
- Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust and UCL
- Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
- University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and UCL
- Barts Health NHS Trust and Queen Mary University of London (BRU focussing on cardiovascular disease)
- University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and UCL (BRU focussing on dementia)
Both bring pre-clinical findings into early clinical studies and their continued growth and interaction are essential to achieve the strategic aims of this area of work.
Each BRC and BRU has its own strategy, but is defined by the pursuit of world-class activity, optimisation of industrial engagement, optimisation of external funding and improvement in effective exploitation of research funds.
We are committed to maximising the involvement of our population in clinical trials; in the last five years 200,000 patients from our geography have participated in trials. Our partnership opens 800 trials per year and approximately 25% of all commercial studies in England have a UCLPartners chief investigator.
NIHR Clinical Research Network
In April 2014, a single local NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) was created to mirror the geography of our AHSN. NIHR CRN North Thames is hosted within the partnership by our member organisation Barts Health NHS Trust. We have already introduced harmonisation of research permissions in north central and north east London, which has reduced the time of approvals in NHS hospitals to less than 10 days.
The clinical lead for NIHR CRN North Thames is Professor Lyn Chitty.
Quintiles Prime Site
Barts Health NHS Trust founded a formal collaboration with Quintiles, the world’s largest contract research organisation (CRO), which established Barts Health NHS Trust as the first Quintiles Prime Site in the UK.
Prime Sites receive first notification of all Quintiles trials that will be based in Europe, providing opportunities to our researchers and patients to lead/participate in national trials. In addition, the company provides considerable infrastructure contributions that support study initiation and recruitment and a commercial management input that helps the trust to plan for growth and the company to attract more trials to the UK.
This prime site has been extended across UCLPartners and beyond to enable all of our member organisations to participate and receive priority access to global commercial studies.
Applied health research
Our aim is to conduct world-class applied health research for patient and public benefit, to achieve a substantial impact on health outcomes, reductions in health and healthcare inequalities and improvements in quality of care. The applied health research being carried out within academic departments across our member organisations is wide ranging and covers health issues from multiple angles.
We led our members in a successful bid to become an NIHR CLAHRC, with the NIHR CLAHRC North Thames designated in August 2013. NIHR CLAHRC North Thames delivers improvements in the themes of innovations in systems and models of healthcare, methodological innovation, optimising behaviour and engagement with care, empowering mental health service users and families, and child and adolescent health.
The NIHR CLAHRC North Thames is led by Professor Rosalind Raine.