Supporting delivery of patient-centred experimental medicine research through an £8.7m boost in funding

The University of Leeds is partnering with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) to support experimental medicine trials.

The Trust was recently awarded £8.7 million from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to fund its Clinical Research Facility (CRF) for 5 years from September 2022. This is part of a £161 million investment nationally, which expands the delivery of early experimental medicine research trials.

The NIHR Leeds CRF team, led by Director Professor Chris Twelves will deliver experimental medicine trials in designated Units across the city at St James’s University Hospital, Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds Children’s Hospital, Leeds Dental Institute and Chapel Allerton Hospital co-ordinated by the CRF leadership team based at the LTHT Research and Innovation Centre. Adults with solid tumours and haematological malignancies, cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, those with oral and dental health conditions and children will have the opportunity to participate in trials delivered by the CRF. These trials are “high-intensity” or include experimental elements that mean they are best delivered by specially trained research staff and usually delivered in designated research areas rather than routine clinics or wards. The importance of the NIHR Leeds CRF has been shown recently by supporting COVID-19 trials including testing of the Novavax vaccine and the ongoing COV-Boost trial.

The NIHR CRFs, working with the NIHR Clinical Research Network, helps to support research delivery across all phases of clinical trials, and researchers from the University of Leeds play an integral role in making this work happen. This new NIHR funding will help to transform research at LTHT and the University of Leeds, supporting local patients taking part in experimental medicine to help researchers better understand medical conditions that may affect people in Leeds and wider afield.

Julian Hartley, Chief Executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “I am delighted to hear the fantastic news from the NIHR about the award of £8.7million funding to the Leeds NIHR CRF. This is a huge achievement and credit to the NIHR CRF team at the Trust. The increase in funding will support transformative work at the CRF for experimental medicine trials to take place across Leeds, enhance our partnerships with the life sciences industry and further supports the development of an Innovation District with other partners in the city. The CRF is a vital part of the Trust and a key element in our partnership with the University of Leeds.” 

Professor Chris Twelves, Director of the NIHR Leeds Clinical Research Facility said: “I am thrilled at the news of the funding allocation by the NIHR to the Leeds CRF. The funding of £8.7million represents an eleven-fold increase, which will be genuinely transformative for experimental medicine research in Leeds. The funding will enhance research taking place at the CRF across Trust sites at St James’s University Hospital, Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds Children’s Hospital and Chapel Allerton Hospital. It will further strengthen LTHT researchers’, working with our key partner the University of Leeds, capability to carry out research into conditions that are relevant to our local population. Importantly, more of our patients will be able to access experimental medicine trials with the potential to deliver positive benefits.”

Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds said: “The 8.7M award to the Leeds NIHR CRF will be transformative to our medical research in Leeds, and I am thrilled that the University plays an integral role in delivering this work. The University has a reputation for conducting high-impact research with real-world impact, and this work will help us to discover and innovate solutions to patient treatments across Leeds and beyond. It is a significant achievement to the expertise of the NIHR CRF team, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we revolutionise patient care for future generations.”