Our Research

For nearly two centuries, medical research in Birmingham has been driven towards patient benefit through therapeutic innovation and medical education, from the foundation of the Medical School by William Sands Cox in 1825 to the ever-improving state-of-the-art research facilities available today.

Today Birmingham Health Partners acts as the foundation bringing together world-leading research of the University of Birmingham (UoB) and three major teaching hospitals; University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHBFT), Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust (BWC) with the mission of harnessing these research strengths in the University to deliver better treatments and care to our patients.

The BHP mission is underpinned by the sector leading work of its partners. Through the University and its College of Medical and Dental Sciences that houses the second largest Medical School in the UK and offering outstanding innovation in Biomedicine, to the work of UHBFT, BWC in delivering secondary and tertiary care to the surrounding multi-ethnic population of over 5 million (including 1.2 million children) and provision of specialized services that are of national importance. Together this partnership provides unrivaled opportunities for experimental Medicine-based patient-oriented research that underpins early pathways of translation, rapidly bringing new drugs, devices and diagnostics to NHS patients.

Ageless Approach

The clinical partners of BHP ensure we can deliver an ageless approach to our research, from pregnancy and paediatrics  through to adulthood (UHB). The realisation that most of the NIHR and Research Council research priorities have their origins and earliest manifestations in Childhood (e.g. Cancer and Rare Diseases) has allowed us to move away from research defined by the limitations of organ-based specialties, to an `ageless’ approach, developing and evaluating new mechanisms of disease and therapies through shared patients from all age groups on all sites.

RESEARCH STRENGTHS

Immunology and Inflammation

A longstanding strength of Birmingham is it research in the fields of Immunology and inflammation. Birmingham is at the forefront of medical research and we are among the leaders of this exciting, fast-evolving field. From basic science, to clinical trials of new drugs, to exercise interventions in the community, we cover every aspect of research within this field. With one of the greatest concentrations of scientists and doctors in the world, we are also at the cutting edge of immunotherapy – treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases. This activity has been underpinned by the recently awarded NIHR BRC in Inflammation.

Oncology

Birmingham has made a unique and powerful contribution to understanding of how genetic abnormalities within cancer cells lead to disease. We use this information to design and rigorously assess new and proven cancer treatments. Through Birmingham’s Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit – one of Europe’s leading clinical trials unit- and the Birmingham Adult ECMC and Paediatric ECMC – we use this information to design and rigorously assess new and proven cancer treatments. In so doing, we will play a significant role in accelerating the ultimate control of cancer. Our Centre for Clinical Haemato-oncology (CCH) is accelerating the delivery of new treatments to patients through its innovative trials acceleration programme. Strengths in genomic science provide a strong underpinning for the West Midlands Genomic Medicine Centre which is a leading part of the national 100k genomes project.

Clinical Trials

BHP has considerable experience in the design and delivery of clinical trials, with Birmingham now one of Europe’s largest clusters in this field. These trials are supported by our access to the West Midlands population of 5.4million, made up of a highly diverse socio-economic mix. Along with the CR-CTU we house the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit (BCTU) who is a partner in the Birmingham Surgical Trials Consortium (BiSTC), one of five national surgical clinical trials units supported by the Royal College of Surgeons.

Maternal Health

Birmingham has a wide programme of activity within the research theme of maternal health both nationally and more recently globally. Our work is aiming to improve the health and care of women and infants during and after pregnancy and birth. It includes cohort studies to establish risk factors, randomised controlled trials to test potentially effective interventions, systematic reviews and qualitative research. These studies are within a variety of topic areas, including childbirth related health problems, antenatal and postnatal care, maternity care in deprived populations, use of lay workers, postnatal depression, urinary and faecal incontinence, breastfeeding and maternity care and health in the developing world. This has recently been strengthened by the award of the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research, the largest miscarriage research centre in Europe and for which we are the lead centre.

Rare diseases

A rare disease by definition affects less than 1 in 2,000 people. However, with more than 7,000 individual rare diseases, their collective prevalence is about 1 in 17 of the general population. 50% of affected people are children, and for over 50% there is no cure or specific treatment. In Birmingham, our health services and science institutions have come together through the Academic Health Science Network and BHP to invest heavily in rare diseases translational research delivery through both Paediatric and Adult Centres of Rare Diseases which is underpinned by the West Midlands Regional Genetics Service at BWH.

 Informatics

Birmingham has a world-leading clinical informatics platform which enables highly characterised patient cohort data collection across bioinformatics (e.g. genetics, phenotyping, metabolomics), clinical informatics (e.g. diagnostic categories, co-morbidities, social phenotyping,haematology, biochemistry, drug treatments) health informatics (e.g. patient outcomes, patient reported outcome measures) and IT platforms that enable patient data-sharing across NHS organisations. This expertise is led academically from the University’s Centre for Computational Biology.

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UNDERPINNING RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE

CHRONIC INFLAMMATION AND METABOLIC DISEASE

Oncology

CLINCAL TRIALS

MATERNAL HEATH

RARE DISEASES

INFORMATICS / CROSS CUTTING

INFRASTRUCTURE

NIHR FUNDED DEVELOPMENTS

RESEARCH FACILITIES