UHSussex leading the way for research

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University Hospitals Sussex is cementing its position as a national leader for clinical research by investing nearly £1 million on new initiatives.

The money will enable more nurses, midwives, therapists and junior doctors to contribute to and develop their own research through fellowships.

The commitment to research will also help UHSussex attract and retain staff from all over the country who want to make research part of their career.

Professor Martin Llewelyn, consultant in Microbiology and Infection at UHSussex, said: “Research and innovation are vital for driving improvements in clinical care and the link between research activity at hospitals and good clinical outcomes for patients is well established.

“Research active hospitals are also more rewarding places to work. These initiatives will transform the opportunities we provide and help make UHSussex a place where people who want to make clinical research part of their careers will seek to come and stay.

The newly funded research programme follows a leading contribution from UHSussex in the fight against COVID-19 and creation of the booster vaccines.

Professor Llewelyn added: “Over the last year we have focused on sustained delivery of our contribution to the COVID-19 research effort. We have participated in 26 COVID-19 treatment and prevention studies, far more than any other acute Trust in the region and enrolled a total of 6,076 participants.

“Our work has informed national policy on vaccination and infection prevention and contributed to the licencing of all the specific COVID-19 treatments used across the NHS today.”

More recently, non-COVID research has begun to increase again. In the past year the Trust has recruited 3,691 patients into 217 non-Covid-19 studies in disease areas including: Cancer; Cardiovascular Disease; Dermatology; Diabetes; Gastroenterology; Infectious Disease; Haematology; Herpetology; HIV & Sexual Health; Neurology; Ophthalmology; and Children’s’ Medicine.

Professor Llewelyn added: “We have now started to build our portfolio in both paediatric and adult emergency medicine, where we are the leading site nationally for “PRONTO” a major NIHR trial of treatment in SEPSIS.

“At the same time, our cardiologists have continued to run world leading research studies including several “first in human” device implants and innovations for patients with heart valve diseases which have already benefited many patients.”

Professor Llewelyn believes the focus on new research opportunities could be transformational for the Trust. He said: “We need to unleash the potential for all UHSussex staff to contribute to research that is embedded in their clinical practice.

“Supporting research careers will ensure we grow research that is relevant to our patients, is led by us and helps develop the next generation of research leaders.”

The new programmes have been jointly funded by Health Education England, KSS Deanery, Brighton and Sussex Medical School and UHSussex.