Clinical Research Facility for medical trials opened

09 May 2011 09:00:00.000
PA 148/11

A new unit specifically built to help pioneering medical scientists translate their research into more effective treatments for patients is being unveiled at The University of Nottingham.

The newly refurbished wing within the Medical School section of the Queen’s Medical Centre is a state-of-the-art, tailor-made space for evaluating new treatments in patients from the East Midlands and across the UK.

It is the first time medical researchers in Nottingham and the wider region have had access to a multi-disciplinary Clinical Research Facility attached to a hospital where they can test out new treatments, diagnostic methods and drugs developed by their clinical translational research projects.

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The bookable ‘hotel-style’ unit will be used by doctors from a wide variety of disciplines as well as other universities, research institutes and the commercial sector. It will also benefit the patient volunteers who take part in the trials because of its easy access to and from the hospital and the range of cutting-edge diagnostic tests and treatments available.

The new wing will be supported by the existing infrastructure and expertise within the Medical School, including a Clinical Trials Unit which provides statistical, data management and regulatory support for clinical trials.

The facility will also give medical researchers access to a new imaging suite including a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner facility which will be specialising in lung diseases. A second, larger MRI (3Tesla) scanner is also being installed to support clinical research for other illnesses, particularly those affecting the brain.

The unit consists of a suite of rooms including beds for up to eight patients or healthy volunteers, administrative offices, a large ‘hotdesk’ office space for researchers, two laboratories and a storage area with six -80oC freezers for blood and tissue samples.

Announcing the opening of the facility, Professor Ian Hall, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, said:

“Clinical trials are at the cutting edge of medical research, where pioneering discoveries can be tested on healthy volunteers and suitable patients in order to translate those discoveries into real benefits for patients. One major barrier to the successful translation of research is the lack of specialised facilities to undertake clinical trials. This new bespoke facility will make it much easier to run our trials, both logistically and in terms of access to the latest equipment and scanning techniques.

“For example, my group’s research programmes in lung diseases such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), will benefit enormously from the new space and the facilities we have installed.”

The unit will provide additional facilities to complement Nottingham’s three Biomedical Research Units (BRUs) in the fields of Respiratory Medicine, Digestive Diseases and Hearing. The CRF is one of a number of research facilities supported by the University’s Clinical Translational Research Priority Group, which also supports the Arthritis Research UK’s National Pain Centre and the Institute of Mental Health as well as Nottingham’s Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC).

Dr William Chang, research fellow in the University’s Division of Therapeutics and Molecular Medicine, said: 

“The new Clinical Trials Facility will be a huge boost to our research into the rare but serious lung disease ‘LAM’ which affects mainly women. Our current study is to test if the drug doxycycline (a commonly used antibiotic) is effective in slowing the progression of lung disease in LAM. Many of our patients dependent on oxygen cylinders to breathe and are in wheelchairs. It will make their life much easier to be able to use the facility which is close to the lung function department and x-ray area where they normally receive their clinical care.

“From an administrative point of view, working in a purpose-built environment means that all the elements needed for good clinical research are concentrated in one space: clinical space to see patients and perform tests, NHS and University computers to access records, and designated secure space for storage and archiving of notes and clinical samples according to government guidelines, so helping to improve efficiency as well as maintaining strict patient confidentiality.”

Professor Cris Constantinescu, of the Division of Clinical Neurology, said:

“We are among the leading UK researchers into multiple sclerosis (MS) and the new unit will benefit us significantly. We have probably the largest MS clinic in England, with a clinical database of approximately 3,000 patients. We are one of the most active MS centres in terms of clinical research, having participated in more than 30 clinical trials in MS in the last 10 years, and we are running about seven clinical trials currently. 

“Some of the trials are investigator-initiated and designed. These include a study of controlled hookworm infection in relapsing remitting MS, which is due to start soon, and a study of interferon combined with curcumin, which has been approved for funding.

“We are interested in immunological and imaging aspects of MS to understand the pathophysiology of this inflammatory disease better. We test new MRI techniques and correlate clinical and imaging features with immunological parameters.

“The CRF with its close proximity and connection with the new imaging facilities of the university will create an ideal setting for these studies.”

A Unit Director is being appointed to oversee the running of the facility which will also potentially be available to external clients from other institutions in the UK and the commercial medical research sector.

More information on the University’s Clinical Translational Research Priority Group at:

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. More news from the University at:

May Fest 2011 is on Saturday May 7, 11am to 5.30pm, at The University of Nottingham. The University is throwing open its doors to the community — with heaps of free activities for all ages. The Physics Buskers, thunder and lightning on demand and brain games. Get a glimpse of some of the amazing things that are happening on your doorstep. Visit:

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Story credits

More information is available from Sarah Wolfe  at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust on +44 (0)115 8231473, or

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