University of Leicester involved in three new research partnerships with NHS

Posted by egg3 at Jul 08, 2014 10:02 AM |
Researchers awarded over £15.5 million in record funding

Three NHS and University research partnerships in Leicester have been awarded a combined £15.5 million in funding to help them to develop and translate new scientific discoveries into ground-breaking medicines, treatments and better care for all NHS patients.

This is part of the UK’s largest ever investment in ‘early stage’ health research. It will fund advances in disease diagnosis, prevention and treatment, benefitting patients with diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Of these, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Foundation Trust has two awards with the University of Leicester, and one with Loughborough University as well as the University of Leicester, looking at cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and nutrition, diet and lifestyle.

Cardiovascular Sciences:

Professor Nilesh Samani, Director of the Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit and BHF Professor of Cardiology at the University and Glenfield Hospital said “ The £6.5 million award for renewal of our Unit is a vindication of the quality of cardiovascular research being done by the partnership of the University of Leicester and Universities Hospital of Leicester NHS Trust. Cardiovascular research undertaken in Leicester has already had major impact on the health and well-being on patients not only locally but world-wide”

Professor Bryan Williams, Professor of Medicine at the University and Deputy Director of the Unit said: “The new award will enable us to make further progress in understanding the causes of heart disease and also test new treatments being developed both by our scientists in the University as well as by industrial partners. The award will keep Leicester at the forefront of heart research with direct benefit to our patients. ”

Professor Samani added: “I am absolutely delighted by this award which is a testament to the quality of cardiac research being undertaken by my colleagues in Leicester. I would also like to pay a tribute to the patients and public who participate in our work and the new award is a credit to them also.”

Respiratory Disease:

Professor Andrew Wardlaw Professor of Allergy and Respiratory Medicine and Director of the Institute for Lung Health at the University and UHL, said:

“The Leicester respiratory community is absolutely delighted to have been awarded an NIHR biomedical research unit (BRU), with funding of £4.5 million over five years to start from the Ist April 2012. The BRU will be based at Glenfield Hospital.

"One of the central aims of the BRU is to help develop new medicines, starting with an original idea, often based on laboratory work, and then taking the treatment into the clinic by involving patients in clinical trials. This plays to one of our strengths as we have always placed great emphasis on making our research relevant to patients and developing a close collaboration between the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and the University of Leicester. The BRU therefore represents a partnership between the NHS and University with researchers from both institutions working in synergy.

“The award represents a major recognition of the high quality of research undertaken in Leicester over the last decade into respiratory disease and places Leicester as one of the leading centres for research into respiratory disease in the UK, with international recognition for our research, particularly into asthma and COPD. The award is a great tribute to the very hard work undertaken over the last twenty years by all the members of the respiratory team within the NHS Department of Respiratory Medicine at Glenfield Hospital as well as the scientists within the University of Leicester respiratory science theme and Leicester Institute for Lung Health, to establish a first class research programme underpinned by a first class clinical service.

“The funding will allow us to implement a step change in our ability to undertake groundbreaking research into asthma, COPD and other important lung diseases such as tuberculosis and lung cancer. At the heart of the BRU will be a need to involve people living in Leicestershire with these diseases in our research and this gives us a tremendous opportunity to fully engage with their needs, leading to an improved quality of life for our patients.”

Nutrition, diet and lifestyle:

University Hospitals of Leicester in partnership with Loughborough University and the University of Leicester received funding of £4.5 million over five years starting from 1st April 2011 to establish a National Centre for Biomedical Research in Diet, Lifestyle and Nutrition. This is one of only two such units funded in the country and recognises Leicester and Loughborough’s international expertise in this field.

The remit of the unit is to look at research into lifestyle interventions to both prevent but also manage chronic diseases which are increasing at a truly alarming rate. A recent publication in the Lancet journal last week highlighted the rapid increase in obesity levels which are likely by 2030 to mean a further 11 million subjects will develop obesity leading to an epidemic of chronic diseases particularly type 2 diabetes.

Leicester and Loughborough have international recognition in research. Loughborough is one of the leading institutions in exercise research and University Hospitals of Leicester in conjunction with the University of Leicester have internationally acclaimed researchers in the area of diabetes. This collaboration between the institutes signals an opportunity for these researchers in the East Midlands to become some of the leading experts internationally in the possibility of lifestyle particularly physical activity interventions to both prevent and treat diseases such as diabetes. The funding will create nearly thirty new research posts.

Professor Melanie Davies said: “The research themes will particularly focus on physical inactivity as it is estimated to be the fourth leading cause of death globally and our research will particularly include subjects from black and minority ethnic groups and young people at the highest risk of chronic diseases. The award of this BRU will allow us to become an International Centre of Research Excellence undertaking the full spectrum of lifestyle research which we believe will make a real difference, not only to people in the East Midlands but nationally and internationally. The award was made after an interview involving international experts from across the world including Australia, Canada, the US and Europe and was a highly competitive process but such an award will mean that we will be able to attract and retain some of the leading researchers, nationally and internationally in this area.”

In response to the Coalition Government’s commitment to increase research for dementia, the £800 million funding also includes £18 million for four new Biomedical Research Units around the country to specialise in dementia research.

The partnerships will collaborate with industry and charities, helping to develop the country’s science and research base and secure the UK as a world leader in health research.

Prime Minister, David Cameron said:

“This unprecedented investment into the development of innovative medicines and treatments will have a huge impact on the care and services patients receive and help develop the modern, world-class health service patients’ deserve,

“A strong competitive science and research base is a crucial part of securing sustainable economic growth and creating jobs of the future, and we have some of the best scientists and facilities in the world. This investment will help ensure we continue to be at the cutting edge.”

Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said:

“I am pleased to announce that in Leicester three health research partnerships have been awarded over £15.5 million in funding. Their important work will help ensure NHS patients across the country receive word-class treatments and the very best health outcomes.

“This investment will see scientists in Leicester contribute to the UK-wide development of exciting new science into tangible, effective treatments that can be used across the NHS. It means that patients will see real improvements in early diagnosis, survival rates and living a more independent and better quality of life.”

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said:

“The National Institute for Health Research centres and units announced today have been selected because of the world class quality of their translational research. By focussing on translational research across a wide range of diseases, the centres and units will help pull new scientific discoveries into benefits for NHS patients. I believe they will make a significant impact on the health of the population.”

Sir John Bell, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences said:

“The NHS in England has become one of the best environments in the world for undertaking cutting edge translational research. This is creating real opportunities for improving the health of patients, as well as positioning the UK as a preferred site for clinical development by the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Much of this capability is the result of careful and strategic investment in research infrastructure by the NIHR. The Biomedical Research Centres and Units are an excellent example of this investment and have transformed the relationship between hospitals and the research community.”

An independent panel of leading international experts assessed the applications from across England. Awards were made to NHS Trusts, working in partnership with Universities, with an outstanding track-record of research excellence, and were based on the scale and nature of the proposed research and its anticipated benefit for NHS patients.

The £800 million funding over five years through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is part of the Government’s £4 billion investment in Research and Development.

Notes to Editors

1. About the NIHR:

The National Institute for Health Research provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility. The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training. Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients.

2. The selection process:

All applicants from NHS and university partnerships were assessed by an independent international selection panel. The funding allocated to each NHS Trust/University partnership has been determined by the scale, nature and quality of the research activity to be conducted in each NIHR Biomedical Research Centre or Unit.

3. NIHR Biomedical Research Centres support research across a wide range of disease areas. These Centres are the most outstanding NHS/University research partnerships in the country; leaders in scientific translation and early adopters of new insights in technologies, techniques and treatments for improving health. To ensure they are able to succeed, the NIHR BRCs will receive substantial levels of sustained funding. NIHR BRC funding supports the NHS infrastructure to create an environment where scientific endeavour can thrive, attracting the foremost talent and producing world-class outputs.

4. The NIHR Biomedical Research Units funding scheme aims to support NHS/University partnerships to undertake internationally excellent translational clinical research in priority areas of high disease burden and clinical need, and in which the country has identified research strengths. The scheme enables excellent, but comparatively small research groups at the forefront of their field internationally, to achieve or further develop critical mass. The priority areas for NIHR BRUs are:

• Cardiovascular Disease

• Deafness and Hearing Problems

• Dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia)

• Gastrointestinal (including Liver and Pancreatic) Disease

• Musculoskeletal Disease

• Nutrition, Diet and Lifestyle (including Obesity)

• Respiratory Disease

5. Further information about the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres and Units is available at the following link:

6. The Government’s Plan for Growth:

The Healthcare and Life Sciences section of the Plan for Growth highlights that health research, including the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres and Units, has a key role in the national economy as well as in improving health and care for patients.

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