Priority areas

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The Leicester ISSF has four main priority areas:

Precision Medicine (lead: Professor Martin Tobin)

Leicester has world-leading academic expertise in several clinical specialties, notably cardiovascular and respiratory (inflammatory and infectious) disease, diabetes and cancer. These have received external recognition through three NIHR-funded BRUs, a CLAHRC, CRUK Centre and MRC Pathology Node. Our long-term ambition is to integrate our medical research into a single comprehensive Academic Health Science Centre. Towards this goal, the University and NHS Trust have jointly launched The Leicester Precision Medicine Institute, while incorporating precision medicine as a crosscutting theme in the current BRC and CRUK Centre applications. Precision medicine involves the use of genotype, phenotype and environmental data to identify factors in individuals or subgroups that affect disease risk, status, progression or therapeutic response. In conjunction with our outstanding discovery science and input from social sciences and medical humanities, Precision Medicine will lead to clinical trials that address patient or population differences, and ultimately lead to development of novel interventions and companion diagnostics aimed at specific populations, including ethnic, subgroups. While long-term support will come from the University, NHS, philanthropy and commerce, ISSF will pump-prime key activities.

Ethnic Health and Migration (lead: Professor Kamlesh Khunti)

The Leicester community’s social and demographic features, including the highest proportion of
non-white residents (55%) in the UK, provide a unique and important opportunity to address key
health issues across an ethnically and culturally diverse population. Leicester’s pioneering research has demonstrated that health outcomes vary between ethnic groups. For example, South Asians are more susceptible to type II diabetes and coronary artery disease, but less likely to develop age related cardiac conduction abnormalities. These findings pose questions about causality, nature (genetics) vs nurture (lifestyle), that we are ideally placed to answer and address by intervention. By combining our clinical expertise, large resident patient cohorts and their health records, multi-omic, clinical and other biometrics, and lifestyle characteristics, we can explore causes of clinical variation and develop personalised approaches to healthcare. These issues will be a focus for the new Leicester Precision Medicine Institute. We will also exploit our strengths in population studies and applied psychology to explore factors predisposing communities to particular illnesses, as well as their uptake of and response to treatments. We will pursue this agenda locally (where there is a high incidence of cousin marriages) and also develop comparative datasets in low- and middle income countries, for example working with established partners in diabetes in India (Chennai, Delhi, Pune, Jaipur). Leicester has established the East Midlands Centre for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Health that aims to reduce health inequalities, increase representation in research studies, develop innovative participant recruitment and outreach activities, facilitate knowledge exchange, identify new research priorities and build capacity for BME research. The cross disciplinary Migration Network and Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement Unit established within the School of Sociology will play an increasingly important role.

Structural & Chemical Biology (lead: Professor John Schwabe)
Leicester has an international reputation for excellence in Structural Biology, both in fundamental and (increasingly) translational research. This has had long-standing WT support with establishment of the Henry Wellcome Laboratories of Structural Biology at Leicester in 2005. Currently the group holds WT Senior Investigator, Seed and Equipment awards. Creation of the Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology is an ambitious new enterprise, with substantial University investment in new staff and equipment. Our expertise in structure-based drug discovery fits well with the Leicester Precision Medicine Institute, the CRUK Cancer Centre and Leicester Drug Discovery and Diagnostics (LD3) Centre. We have partnerships with MRC-T, UCB, GSK, 4SC and others. We will develop the Institute in exciting new directions by incorporating complementary expertise in single-molecule and chemical biology and developing technologies of cross-linking/mass-spectroscopy together with single-particle electron microscopy (EM), aiming to establish Leicester as a regional centre for cryo-EM. We will partner with Midlands Universities and have support from pioneering EM centres at the MRC-LMB in Cambridge and Birkbeck. An important use of the ISSF will be to support these partnerships and enable our researchers to gain experience and training during short visits/courses.

New Health Agendas in The Social Sciences and Humanities (co-leads: Professor Martin Halliwell & Professor Steve King)

We will focus ISSF support in two areas of expertise. Firstly, our applied social science in health
policy research and evaluation, led through SAPPHIRE (Social Science APPlied to Healthcare
Improvement REsearch), will develop cross-disciplinary projects using expertise in human factors,
behavioural economics and health communications, partnering with key commissioners such as the Department of Health and Health Education England. Secondly, we will invest in interdisciplinary research projects. Specifically, we will codify and extend existing healthcare research interests across the Humanities and Social Sciences to foster a clear and ongoing interdisciplinary conversation with the three other strategic priorities. We will develop existing projects on the social implications of migrant and ethnic health, understanding of disability in ethnic communities, and the construction of public knowledge about and expectations of therapeutic breakthrough. We will build research capacity in the medical humanities and social science health research particularly seeking to boost interdisciplinary activity in the fields of medical education and practice, including the history of medicine, mental health, disability, public health, doctor-patient relationships and the public perception of scientific knowledge. We will map our strong public engagement activities in History, Archaeology, English and Museum Studies onto the health-related interests of the other three priorities. We will use ISSF to pump prime projects and create the infrastructure for an ongoing interdisciplinary conversation once ISSF has finished.

Leicester WTISSF: Crossing discipline, ethnic and social boundaries to promote health

Cardiovascular Research

 

 

 

 

 

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