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Thursday 03 March 2022

Southampton awarded £10m research funding boost to enhance treatments and care

Southampton has been awarded over £10 million to expand the city’s delivery of ground-breaking studies that improve patient care.

The NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility (CRF) is an extensive, dedicated space for early-stage clinical research in the heart of University Hospital Southampton. It is delivered in a long-standing partnership with the University of Southampton.

The new funding boost from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) will grow the facility’s capacity over the next five years, building on its position as one of the leading centres for research delivery in the country.

At the forefront of research

NIHR Southampton CRF clinical trials range from studies testing new treatments, vaccines and medical devices in patients for the very first time (first-in-human trials) through to early safety and efficacy trials (Phase II and complex phase III trials).

The 2,000m2 facility delivers research studies funded by the NIHR, the life sciences industry and other organisations.

Studies cover a large range of conditions in adults and children, including many types of cancer, asthma, COPD, infection and inflammation, and musculoskeletal and neurological conditions.

The CRF has completed over 800 clinical trials in the last 10 years.

Prof Saul Faust, Director of NIHR Southampton CRF, said: “The research delivered by our CRF since it was first funded in 1998 has provided faster access for patients to novel treatments. These new advances are driving better health outcomes for all and boosting our national economy.

“I am delighted that our outstanding track-record and long-term strategy have been recognised through ongoing NIHR funding in Southampton. With support from our patients and healthy volunteers, our studies will continue to shape the next generation of healthcare.”

Combatting COVID-19

The NIHR Southampton CRF was a crucial component of the nation’s COVID-19 response.

The Facility set-up a dedicated vaccine trials centre within a locked-down university sports hall in just four days. Its team opened a Phase I study of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine within a week, and by August 2020 had recruited nearly 700 people to early phase trials of the vaccine.

Southampton respiratory research has also played a key part in the development of an acute treatment for COVID-19, following over 10 years of trials in the CRF.

Growth in research and innovation

Over 13,000 people were part of Southampton research advancing health and care over 2021/22. Ranked ninth for total recruitment amongst all acute NHS Trusts, the city has also delivered the most COVID-19 studies.

Dr Karen Underwood, Interim Director of Research & Development (R&D) at UHS, said: “Pioneering research and innovation is vital to the successful delivery of the Trust’s clinical strategy. We welcome this new funding for NIHR Southampton CRF and are committed to continue growing our research workforce and estate in the coming years.

“With hundreds of studies happening at any one time across a wide range of conditions, we want all people to have the opportunity to take part in research.”

UHS is one of 28 NHS hospitals across England to receive a share of £161 million from the NIHR in this week’s announcement. Its £10.5 million investment will run from 2022 to 2027.

The total new funding for CRFs across England is a 43% increase (£49 million) from the last five-year period.