Our Research

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Research priorities

We were founded to develop new treatments, therapies and diagnostics for patients in the West Midlands and beyond. This process – taking ideas and basic science and translating them into useable drugs and devices – happens most effectively when we work in partnership. Bringing together the strengths of clinicians, academics, industry partners and patients, we are greater than the sum of our parts.

To achieve our aim of becoming first-to-mind for healthcare investment and clinical trials, and to become a sought-after destination for researchers and enterprise, we have focused our research strategy on four themes. These ‘pillars’ represent the areas of collective strength; specialisms where Birmingham has a track record in delivering what we promise: new diagnostics and treatments for the patients we serve.

Each of the four pillars – Cancer; Chronic Disease; Health & Wellbeing; and Women’s & Children’s – is directed by a clinical, academic and executive lead. Drawn from across our member organisations, these pillar leads are champions for research, masters of integrated working, and passionate about finding answers.

They bridge the gap between clinicians and academics, ensure patients are involved in research design, and guarantee that our work adheres to policy and regulations.

As a team, each pillar and its leads have set research objective and focus areas based not only on their own specialisms, but on the current and future needs of our local communities.

More information on our four research pillars will be added to this page soon.

Our strengths

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 Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit we house the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit (BCTU).

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.


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.

Cross-cutting themes

Underpinning each pillar are five cross-cutting themes – areas of commonality which shape the way each pillar will approach their research. As with the pillars, each discipline is an area in which our partners are recognised beyond Birmingham for the impact of their work.