Thursday, 14 September 2023
A group of researchers led by the University of Nottingham has been awarded £200,000 to develop a new national research platform to improve the health outcomes and prospects of babies born too soon and their families.
The platform will be designed using innovative clinical trial methods to undertake clinical trials and will efficiently assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of interventions around the time of birth.
Babies born too soon can be very poorly, leading to long stays in hospital and lifelong consequences to their development. Preterm birth (before 37 weeks of gestation) affects over 60,000 UK pregnancies and 15 million worldwide annually. It causes more than half of all perinatal deaths and is the leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality.
Ed Juszczak, Professor of Clinical Trials and Statistics in Medicine at Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit, University of Nottingham will co-lead the ‘platform’[i] alongside Pollyanna Hardy, Director of the National Perinatal Epidemiology Clinical Trials Unit, Oxford Population Health, collaborating with Dr Munyaradzi Dimairo, Senior Research Fellow at the Clinical Trials Research Unit, Sheffield Centre of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield.
The funding was received from the National Institute for Health and Care Research’s (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme and is hoped to accelerate vital research in this area.
Our perinatal platform will address this area of strategic importance for the Department of Health and Social Care by focusing on interventions for pregnant women and preterm infants.
Professor Juszczak said: “Our perinatal platform will address this area of strategic importance for the Department of Health and Social Care by focusing on interventions for pregnant women and preterm infants. We will work with parents, pregnant women, and national charities to ensure public involvement is central to the development of the platform, so it reflects the challenges and opportunities currently being experienced.”
The research group will involve people from around the UK, with different expertise including doctors who care for pregnant women and babies, midwives, researchers, and parents who have personal experience of having a premature baby. The team will also work closely with two national charities who provide support to pregnant women and new parents: Bliss and National Childbirth Trust.
Three Clinical Trials Units are involved in Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield - all are UK Clinical Research Collaboration registered Clinical Trials Units. Several interdisciplinary teams from collaborating institutions will also be involved, including University of Leicester, Imperial College London, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and Cardiff University.
Pollyanna Hardy comments: “This is a fantastic opportunity to bring together a UK wide team to collaborate and learn from each other specifically with the aim of providing answers to crucial research questions more efficiently.”
Dr Munyaradzi Dimairo added: “This development work will allow us to develop efficient, feasible and robust methods to address research questions, which will inform a grant application to the NIHR for the first trials using this platform. We hope to secure additional funding to allow the first clinical trials to take place in early 2025”.
Titled: ‘Accelerating the development of a perinatal platform trial to efficiently evaluate the effectiveness of multiple interventions in maternity and neonatal care,’ the project will run from March 2023 for 12 months.
For further information, please contact Ed Juszczak, Professor of Clinical Trials and Statistics in Medicine.
Notes to editors:
About the University of Nottingham
Ranked in the Top 100 globally and 17th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.
Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.
The University is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
The University is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.
We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.