Item 1

NIHR Research Professor Waljit Dhillo

Item 2

Research nurse and participant

Item 3

CRN Metabolic & Endocrine National Specialty Group

Item 4

Patient and Public Involvement

Item 5

In the Laboratory

Item 6

Research for the benefit of patients and the public

Enquiries


Contact Specialty Cluster A

Barbora Houskova
Barbora.houskova@nihr.ac.uk

Cluster A inbox
crnspecialtyclustera@nihr.ac.
uk                     

Specialty Cluster A provides a coordinating function for eight clinical specialty groups and brings together research leaders and their communities of clinical practice with wider stakeholders (e.g. charities, patients & public). The specialty groups provide leadership for specialty activities at national level in order to maximise research activity, delivery and access to the CRN.  They are able to advise on clinical strengths and the capacity and capability of the specialty to maximise clinical research opportunities to patients.


Emerging technology and innovation areas

Specialty Cluster A also leads the CRN in three cross-cutting areas of emerging technology and innovation, working strategically to ensure our research workforce is well supported as rapid progress is made in these fields. Our approach is to collaborate with experts both within Imperial College and also the wider community of stakeholders to uncover and address gaps in knowledge or research processes.

Line break

Our focus areas - expand below to find out more.

Cardiovascular Disease

The Cardiovascular Disease national specialty group is lead jointly by Prof John Pepper (Royal Brompton Hospital), Dr Paul Clift (University Hospital Birmingham) and Dr Patrick Calvert (Papworth Hospital). Research areas of focus include cardiovascular disease prevention, atherothrombosis, arrhythmias, cardiac surgery, congenital heart disease, pulmonary arterial hypertension and heart failure.

Last year (2021/2022) the NIHR supported the recruitment of over 63,000 participants into 412 studies on cardiovascular disease across England. 

Find out more you can visit our website at: www.nihr.ac.uk/cardiovascular

Access our Study Support Service online at: www.supportmystudy.nihr.ac.uk

Diabetes

The Diabetes Specialty, lead by Prof Simon Heller (University of Sheffield), includes nationally and internationally recognised key opinion leaders, all of whom are active researchers, who provide strategic input into enabling people with diabetes to participate in high quality clinical studies which are delivered to time and target.

Over 16,900 participants were recruited into CRN supported studies in 2021/22 across the entire diabetes pathway across England.

Diabetes UK has had a long association with the NIHR to injecting new ideas and innovation into diabetes research, which is good news for the 4 million people in the UK living with diabetes. We work closely with the Diabetes UK Clinical Studies Groups, to support the emerging thinking and outputs of each of the seven groups.

Find out more you can visit our website at: www.nihr.ac.uk/diabetes

Access our Study Support Service online at: www.supportmystudy.nihr.ac.uk

Gastroenterology

The Gastroenterology Specialty, led by Professor Tariq Iqbal, is one of 30 specialties which bring together communities of clinical practice to provide networks of research expertise and clinical leadership. It is made up of research-interested clinicians and practitioners who work at both national and local levels to ensure the studies that are included in our portfolio of research are delivered successfully in the NHS. 

Last year (2021/2022) the NIHR supported 165 studies and recruited 23,198 patients to Gastroenterology studies. 

Nutrition

The Gastroenterology specialty have recognised a deficit in the nutritional research activity on the NIHR portfolio as well as being underrepresented in funding calls. This applies not only to disease-specific areas such as IBD, coeliac disease and IBS, but also to nutritional support and obesity.

We would like to pull together a small sub-group of key experts and representatives from complementary speciatiles to identify if there is any appetite to plan and run a cross-specialty, cross-disciplinary workshop focusing on the overarching question of 'What do we need to do to increase the volume of, and capacity and capability for, nutritional research?'.

Find out more you can visit our website at: http://www.nihr.ac.uk/nihr-in-your-area/gastroenterology/

Access our Study Support Service online at: http://www.nihr.ac.uk/funding-and-support/study-support-service/

Hepatology

The Hepatology Specialty, led by Dr Lynsey Corless, is one of 30 specialties which bring together communities of clinical practice to provide networks of research expertise and clinical leadership. It is made up of research-interested clinicians and practitioners who work at both national and local levels to ensure the studies that are included in our portfolio of research are delivered successfully in the NHS. 

Last year (2021/2022) the NIHR supported 116 studies on the Hepatology portfolio and recruited 11,593 patients to Hepatology studies. 

Our current research focus areas include; 

Liver disease related to alcohol and obesity
A cross-specialty, cross-NIHR, cross-institution project to review how we can better develop and deliver studies relating to the multiple causes of liver disease, specifically focusing on alcohol and obesity.

NIHR Clinical Research Training Programme
This exciting and innovative programme offers comprehensive training in how to understand, participate in, and lead clinical research as a future consultant. The NIHR and BSG supported course is suitable for all trainees in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and does not require time out of training. The Clinical Research Training Programme (CRTP) will be available from October 2022 and must be completed by July 2023.
 

There are three components to the course:

  • Hands on involvement with your local research team – gain experience in the delivery of NIHR portfolio studies and recruiting patients via the NIHR Associate PI Scheme
  • Online course – covering the principles and practice of clinical research, statistics and critical appraisal
  • Group event – converting clinical problems into research questions (2nd November 2022) 

Please see the Clinical Research Training programme flyer.pdf which includes information on how to register interest, and further details on the course itself.

 
Find out more you can visit our website at: http://www.nihr.ac.uk/nihr-in-your-area/hepatology/

 
Access our Study Support Service online at: http://www.nihr.ac.uk/funding-and-support/study-support-service/

Metabolic and endocrine disorders

The Metabolic & Endocrine Specialty, lead by Prof John Wilding (University of Liverpool), is comprised of nationally and internationally recognised key opinion leaders who are principal or chief investigators for many studies. We also have representation from major national charities, including the Society for Endocrinology.

Our research focus areas support a wide range of studies such as those involving adrenal glands and associated diseases, thyroid problems, the pituitary gland, metabolic bone disease, nutrition including obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome, reproductive endocrinology, and many rare inherited conditions affecting these systems and other aspects of metabolism.

Last year (2021/2022) the NIHR supported the recruitment of over 7,000 participants into 123 studies in metabolic and endocrine disorders.

Find out more you can visit our website at: www.nihr.ac.uk/metabolic-and-endocrine

Access our Study Support Service online at: www.supportmystudy.nihr.ac.uk

Renal disorders

The Renal Disorders Specialty, led by Prof David Wheeler (University College London), is comprised of leading research-interested clinicians and practitioners at both national and local levels. We cover the entire renal disorders care pathway across all subspecialty areas, including benign Urology.

In 2021/22, 19,714 participants were recruited to Renal Disorders across 173 studies.

CRN Renal Disorders benefits from consistent and innovative interaction with other key renal stakeholders, especially its main charity, Kidney Research UK and the academic body, UK Kidney Research Consortium (UKKRC). In 2006 the specialty helped to develop UK’s first renal research strategy.

Find out more you can visit our website at: www.nihr.ac.uk/renal

Access our Study Support Service online at: www.supportmystudy.nihr.ac.uk

Respiratory disorders

The Respiratory Disorders Specialty, led by Professor Anthony De Soyza, is one of 30 specialties which bring together communities of clinical practice to provide networks of research expertise and clinical leadership. It is made up of research-interested clinicians and practitioners who work at both national and local levels to ensure the studies that are included in our portfolio of research are delivered successfully in the NHS. 

Last year (2021/2022) the NIHR supported 273 studies, and recruited 159,147 patients to Respiratory Disorders studies.

The current research focus include: 

Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI)
A cross, speciality, cross NIHR, and organisational project to develop a platform approaches to support studies ARI across the UK, bridging primary and secondary care.

Respiratory Early Career Researcher Network: INSPIRE

The INSPIRE Respiratory Early Career Researcher (ECR) Network aims to create a vibrant, dynamic and inclusive community to facilitate a collaborative approach to perform clinical research and high-quality audits on a national scale for the benefit of patients with respiratory disease.

In the process of establishing and conducting these research activities, members will develop their research skills, gain career mentorship and establish and strengthen regional and national collaborations between institutions, and between specialties.

The network and steering committee will have access to a senior counsel consisting of a panel of established senior clinical academics who can provide advice and guidance on the suitability of proposed projects and audits, and other aspects of running the network.

A sandpit event will be held in 2023 for ECRs to pitch research proposals for the network to support and deliver nationally. Further details on the Sandpit Event will be shared in due course.

For more information about the network please visit the INSPIRE website.

Find out more you can visit our website at: http://www.nihr.ac.uk/nihr-in-your-area/respiratory/

Access our Study Support Service online at: http://www.nihr.ac.uk/funding-and-support/study-support-service/

Stroke

The Stroke Specialty, lead by Prof Tom Robinson (University of Leicester), is made up of key opinion leaders across the UK with specific skills and expertise to support and delivered stroke studies. We cover the entire stroke pathway, from the first few hours after stroke, until months and years later. Research areas of focus in stroke have included hyperacute, recovery, rehabilitation and prevention.

Over 13,300 patients were recruited across 120 CRN Stroke research studies in 2021/22. We also have ten hyperacute stroke research centres, with an increased support infrastructure to deliver complex interventions within the first eight hours of stroke onset.

Find out more you can visit our website at: www.crn.nihr.ac.uk/stroke

Access our Study Support Service online at: www.supportmystudy.nihr.ac.uk

Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products

An ATMP is a medicinal product which is either i) a gene therapy, ii) a somatic cell therapy, or iii) a tissue engineered product. There are currently ~90 ATMP trials ongoing in the UK, and ~1000 worldwide. The Cluster undertook scoping to identify challenges that may be contributing to the low number of trials in the UK, identifying:

  • Lack of specialised training across multiple groups
  • Restricted access to infrastructure and lack of clarity as to the infrastructure needed
  • Clarifying the role of pharmacy professionals
  • No single industry offering

However, the biggest challenge related to the number of enthusiastic stakeholders duplicating each other’s work. Our simple solution has been to pull together a NIHR ATMP Coordinating Group chaired by Cluster A and including all relevant stakeholders (Figure).

 

 

Working Groups deliver the day-to-day business and include (lead):

Education and workforce (Uta Griesenbach, Professor of Molecular Medicine at Imperial College and British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy President): Developing training and educational programmes and activities for the entire workforce impacted by ATMP studies.

Pan UK ATMP Pharmacy (Anne Black, Regional QA Specialist Pharmacist and Nicola Stoner, Cancer Consultant Pharmacist): Developing guidelines and providing expertise on pharmacy processes and pathways required for ATMP studies.

Infrastructure and Governance (Joanna Gray, UK Clinical Research Facility Clinical Manager, Birmingham): Ensuring that NHS Trusts have the necessary infrastructure and knowledge required to be involved in ATMP studies

Industry (Madina Kara, NOCRI Senior Research Collaboration Manager): Developing a single ATMP offering for the UK, which can be used by all industry entry points.

Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (Jayne Spink, CEO, Genetic Alliance UK): Aiming to enable members of the public and patients to become more aware of and involved in ATMP studies.

 

Metabolic Phenotyping

Metabolic phenotyping is a scientific research strategy to understand the interactions between the genotype, environment and lifestyle at the molecular level - the strategy allows us to study metabolomics, the study of the complete set of metabolites within biological fluids, tissues or organisms.  

By studying the metabolome, researchers can measure the dynamics of the cell response which may in turn support the identification of active biological pathways during disease/health.  An important use of this information might be to better predict disease outcomes or treatment response to particular drug regimes.

The medical and scientific community are well aware of the potential applications of metabolomics. One imagines a wide variety of research questions could be addressed, but what are the techniques used to produce metabolomic data? How does one interpret it and make comparisons with it? How can one incorporate the techniques into a research proposal? What are the analysis options best suited to answer a given research hypothesis?  Many questions quickly emerge and researchers may not easily find answers or guidance.

We are collaborating with staff from the MRC-NIHR National Phenome Centre (NPC) based at Imperial and also the Imperial international Phenome Training Centre to broaden the use of metabolic phenotyping in the clinical research community.  We have produced a free e-learning course in metabolomics which covers the basics of the analytical techniques used and the mathematical principles which make sense of the data produced. The course comprises 14 short videos in total and includes practical aspects of sample selection, preparation, experimental and study design and biomarker identification. The course is aimed at clinicians, research nurses and practitioners.  Those who complete the course and want to take the next step in incorporating the technique in their research are encouraged to contact our collaborators at NPC.

Our current project involves producing a cloud-based reference tool against which researchers can analyse and compare their own metabolomic data.  We plan to provide reference metabolomic profiles of healthy and common disease populations so that researchers do not have to spend a significant portion of their funding on analysing ‘control’ samples.

 

Medical Devices

Medical technology is an extremely broad field and we have been focussing our energy on medical devices. We started by examining the current “landscape” for different types of devices and how they relate to clinical conditions. In collaboration with Imperial’s Hamlyn Centre, we produced a report on Implantable and Wearable Medical Devices for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease which charts the changing role of devices from a clinician’s tool to those entirely operated by patients. Biomarkers and multi-parameter measurements can detect the likelihood of exacerbations and in turn aid disease management and reduce hospital admission.

A second report on ‘Devices for Endovascular Interventions: Technical advances and translational challenges’ highlights the current state-of-the-art devices which form the basis of current treatments such as stenting, embolisation and ablation.

Line break

Specialty Cluster A members

  • Ms Jacqueline Mathews

    Placeholder image

    Personal details

    Ms Jacqueline Mathews CRN Cluster Lead

    +44 (0)20 7594 6046

  • Ms Emanuela Mariani

    Placeholder image

    Personal details

    Ms Emanuela Mariani CRN Cluster A General Manager

    +44 (0)20 7594 3390

  • Miss Karina Mahiouz

    Placeholder image

    Personal details

    Miss Karina Mahiouz CRN Cluster A Manager

    +44 (0)207 594 9978

  • Miss Kate Roberts

    Placeholder image

    Personal details

    Miss Kate Roberts MLTC-M Support Officer

  • Miss Barbora Houskova

    Placeholder image

    Personal details

    Miss Barbora Houskova CRN Cluster A Administrator