Research Office Weekly Blog: Looking Forward to the Year Ahead

By Dr Lloyd Gregory, MAHSC Associate Director of Research

lloyd gregory

I would like to start this week’s blog with a huge thank you to all the MAHSC Research Office (MRO) bloggers over the last few weeks, who have provided fantastic descriptions of their work. It’s been great to see a large number of re-tweets following the posting of their blogs to Twitter, demonstrating a wider interest in their work that extends beyond the MAHSC partnership.

So with the summer coming to an end and a new business year commencing in MAHSC, I thought I would tell you about what’s on the docket for the MAHSC Research function and the MRO over the coming year, and what an exciting, opportunity-filled year it is going to be!

There are a number of exciting projects that the Research Office will be driving over the coming year that will continue to add value to the partnership’s collective research activity.

As our Biomedical Research Centre-Biomedical Research Unit preparations move into the next phase in readiness for the official call from NIHR, which we expect towards the end of this year, Professors Colin Sibley, Ian Greer, David Ray and Julian Davies will be overseeing and coordinating applications. In order to support applications, a team of project managers from across the partnership has come together to assist our lead researchers through the preliminary and full application stages of the process. I am confident that this early, coordinated and data-driven approach will increase our chances of success when the call is announced later this year.

Building on the work we commenced towards the end of the last financial year, the partnership is keen to support further applications for NIHR Senior Investigators (SIs) and to build a pipeline of future SIs by ensuring our best researchers are leading high-quality research projects that have impact beyond the confines of their own organisations.

This year, I am committed to building our capability and capacity in clinical trials across the partnership through bespoke training events, web-based solutions, peer-exchange programmes and ensuring connections to our key research infrastructure are easy and seamless.  To begin, I am working with colleagues from the MAHSC Education and Training function to organise an event that helps those involved in clinical trials navigate their way through the complex and often confusing processes associated with the initiation of their studies by connecting them with the support available within Manchester.

In addition, the work going on to develop the MAHSC Trials Coordination Unit over the coming year will further support our clinical trialists with access to exciting new methodologies and trial management that results in the involvement of Manchester patients in high-quality clinical trials.

The MRO will continue to work with partners to continually improve the initiation and delivery of research through streamlined processes and procedures. We will continue to ensure the costing and contracting of commercial clinical trials is straightforward and can be achieved within a timescale that ensures that trials start on time and in-line with the expectations of our industry partners. In so doing, Manchester becomes the place for undertaking life science industry clinical trials and provides our patients with access to ‘cutting-edge’ treatments.

This year, I am also keen to ensure that the MRO can add value to supporting our partners with the day-to-day duties associated with sponsorship which are key to the effective management of research but also extremely resource intensive particularly for drug and device trials. If we can crack this for the partnership, it would increase our capacity to undertake further groundbreaking research.

Over the coming months, the MRO will be looking to see how sharing expertise in research management, governance and research delivery can be maximised across the partnership to deliver clinical trials to time and target. Prompted by the formation of Health Innovation Manchester, (a partnership that harnesses the existing expertise of MAHSC, Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network, Clinical Research Network, Manchester Science Partnerships and Manchester Growth Company to develop the infrastructure needed for clinical trials and health informatics), the MRO has recently been asked to explore the development of an integrated Research Office for Greater Manchester. The formation of this would support the delivery of world-class clinical research by creating a critical mass and gateway to research provision across the Greater Manchester footprint.  It is very early days but as you can imagine, the prospect is incredibly exciting. Building standardised and reliable systems in MAHSC partners first, provides a solid foundation on which to extend into Greater Manchester and potentially beyond as an exemplar for other regions in the UK.

As you can see, there is much to do and it’s going to have its challenges, but as with most things, the prize is well worth all the hard work. I am confident that as with everything MAHSC sets out to do, we are all focused on delivering high-quality, high-impact results that will benefit our population and beyond.

I am looking forward to updating you periodically on the ‘journey’ (you can tell X-Factor is back on the telly!) via future blogs. In the meantime, I look forward to working with you all over the coming year.

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