12 June 2014
The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has launched its Clinical Trials Unit (CTU), the first of its kind in Lancashire. The CTU will primarily focus on supporting complex intervention trials in stroke, midwifery, cancer, musculoskeletal health, public/population health and mental health, with an expectation that the CTU’s portfolio will complement other CTU work in the North West region.
One of the first trials being tested at the CTU will examine how hospital nursing policies in the first 24 hours after a stroke effect survival and disability. Known as ‘HeadPost’, the study, led by Australian Professor Craig Anderson, will recruit 20,000 patients globally, with the 6,000 UK research participants managed by Lancashire CTU in Preston led by UCLan’s Professor Caroline Watkins. Attendees at the launch of the unit will also learn about the FRESH trial, headed by Associate Professor Kate Radford, which looks at Vocational Rehabilitation to help people get back to work after a traumatic brain injury.
UCLan’s Professor of Stroke and Older People’s Care and Director of Lancashire CTU Caroline Watkins said: “We are delighted to be part of this wider collaboration to enhance the quality of clinical trials nationally and internationally. The new Clinical Trials Unit, which is the first ever unit to be opened in the Lancashire region will not only increase trial capacity and quality for researchers from UCLan, Universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Lancaster but also offer comprehensive support to trials across important diseases and health issues.
“We are proud to be a part of this initiative and working to provide complementary support to the other CTUs in the region, and to be working towards gaining registration with the UK Clinical Research Collaboration and thus further develop our CTU’s portfolio.”
To mark the launch, the University held an event on its opening day, Thursday 12 June, where attendees from the field of research design, management and delivery from the NHS, academia and social care learned about future plans and current trials set to firstly serve the academic community. Experts in the field of clinical trials also spoke on topics such as trials on young children and infants to observations from self-hypnosis trials.
CTUs play a key role in providing expertise and dedicated support necessary for the design, development, management and publication of clinical trials and other high quality studies to research teams. The launch of the unit, which aims to grow the region’s profile and prestige in clinical trials by improving the quality and efficiency of CTU support, is a collaboration between UCLan, University of Liverpool, University of Manchester and Lancaster University and will expand support for trial delivery across health and social care. It will enhance the profile of such research not only in Lancashire, but in the UK.
“We are proud to be a part of this initiative and working to provide complementary support to the other CTUs in the region"
The complex intervention trials that will take place at the unit are testing interventions that contain several interacting components. Unlike drugs trials, they generally need to dramatically change the behaviour of health professionals, communities and other groups, as well as introducing new techniques or care pathways. Complex interventions can be difficult to design, implement and evaluate, due to the range of possible outcomes, number of interactions and the difficulty of changing the target behaviours. Nevertheless, they are crucial in determining actions that can improve healthcare, health services and public health practice.
Professor Matthew Peak, Director of Research at Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust said: “This is a tremendous development for clinical research in the North West and the UK which aims to encourage increased collaborative links with local clinicians, Universities and health institutions. The focus on complex interventions will add strength to the research delivery capability in the region. On behalf of Western Europe's largest children's hospital, we look forward to working with this exciting new clinical trials unit.”
"This is very exciting development, a research hub at UCLan to support innovative clinical trials. This will, I am sure, help to improve the treatment and care of many people with a wide variety of health problems.”
Professor Craig Anderson, Senior Director at The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia and leader of the HeadPost programme said: “It is a great opportunity to work with Professor Caroline Watkins and her team at UCLan on a major new nursing care trial with the potential to advance acute stroke services across the globe.”
Keynote speaker at the launch Professor Peter Sandercock, Professor of Medical Neurology at the University of Edinburgh said: “This is very exciting development, a research hub at UCLan to support innovative clinical trials. This will, I am sure, help to improve the treatment and care of many people with a wide variety of health problems.”