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Boost for research will benefit patients and staff at Kettering and Northampton general hospitals

1109 Leicester Biomedical Research Centre
Patients and staff at Kettering and Northampton general hospitals are set to benefit from a major research funding announcement.

The University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group – which runs KGH and NGH – is now a formal partner in the National Institute for Health and Social Care Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

On October 14 it was announced that the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre will receive £26m to spend on research over the next five-year funding cycle (2022-2027).

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres are partnerships between healthcare professionals and academics in the country’s leading NHS trusts and universities. The NIHR Leicester BRC is a partnership between the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, University of Leicester, Loughborough University and University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group.

The combined research teams in Leicester, Loughborough and Northampton will work together to develop ground-breaking treatments, diagnostics, prevention and care for people who have a wide range of diseases.

The investment from the NIHR will mean that research into illnesses linked to respiratory diseases (affecting the lungs), cardiovascular diseases (hearts and circulation), type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease and the consequences of inactivity will continue to push boundaries of knowledge in clinical medicine.

Associate Director of Research, Innovation, & Education for the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group, Kay Faulkner, said: “We are delighted to learn that NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre has been, once again, successful in achieving significant research funding for the next five years. This is a significant development for us as we progress our research ambitions and academic partnerships.

“As a University Hospitals Group the sort of research being undertaken will be a benefit for our clinicians, who can become involved in some incredible cutting-edge research, and for our patients, who will have more opportunities to take part in clinical trials and other kinds of research.”

Three new speciality areas (called themes) will join the NIHR Leicester BRC for the first time:

  • Personalised cancer prevention and treatment;
  • Environment – looking at how the environment impacts on long term health conditions; and
  • Using data to better understand multiple long term health conditions and factors specific to the health of ethnic minority populations.

In addition, the respiratory speciality will be joined by experts in infectious diseases.

The NIHR Leicester BRC was first launched on 1 April 2017. The new and larger Leicester BRC will begin on 1 December 2022, following an open and competitive process judged by international experts and members of the public. Leicester is one of only 20 Biomedical Research Centres across the country. Its award is part of a significant funding increase for the Midlands, ensuring that patients across the region have opportunities to benefit from innovative research studies. These benefits include access to treatments that are not yet widely available in the NHS.

The new funding will also provide opportunities for a diverse range of professionals to undertake research, expanding research expertise in allied health professionals - such as physiotherapists, radiologists and dietitians - as well as in doctors and nurses.

Professor Melanie Davies CBE, Director of the NIHR Leicester BRC, said: “I am absolutely thrilled at the success of our BRC application. We have doubled our number of themes, including into really important clinical areas such as cancer, which will make such a difference to patients. We have expanded investment into cardiovascular, respiratory and diabetes research and this award will help us retain 120 talented investigators and importantly 45 ‘rising stars’, or leaders of the future, who may have otherwise moved away.

“This is a phenomenal success for our hospital and impacts the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, and will allow us to attract even more investment into our hospitals and Universities.”

Over the past five years, the NIHR Leicester BRC has supported over 340 studies and published nearly 2,000 research papers, as well as supported 61 PhD students beginning their health research careers.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has awarded nearly £800 million to 20 new Biomedical Research Centres across England, to translate scientific discoveries into new treatments, diagnostic tests and medical technologies for patients. Biomedical research in the North and Midlands gets a significant funding boost, with nearly £250 million of the funding invested outside of London, Oxford and Cambridge.

NIHR infrastructure funding, such as that awarded for BRCs, supports the country’s leading experts to develop and deliver research funded by the NIHR, other public funders, charities and the life sciences industry. In doing so, its investment plays a crucial role in underpinning research in England and supporting economic growth. For every £1 invested in the current NIHR Leicester BRC, an additional £10 was received through external grants.

Examples of work it has done so far: 

The current NIHR Leicester BRC has had a key role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included leading a UK-wide study into the longer term effects of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients, which found that of these people 70 per cent continued to report some symptoms up to 12 months after they were first infected with the virus.

Other findings that the NIHR Leicester BRC has made during the last five years include:

Posted on Friday 21st October 2022
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