More Cumbrian patients will be able to advance healthcare for our children and grandchildren thanks to the opening of a new clinical research unit at the Cumberland Infirmary this week.

Research team outside new unit.jpgThe new research and development unit has been opened at Reiver House in the grounds of the Cumberland Infirmary with two dedicated clinic rooms for the team members to see patients.

It means that future generations in Cumbria and beyond will benefit from new medications and treatments thanks to the work taking place on our doorstep.

Although the Trust has a well established research team with an excellent track record of ensuring people in Cumbria take part in clinical trials, having access to dedicated treatment rooms will bring many more research opportunities.

Anna McSkeane, Research Team Leader at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC)  said:

 “Clinical research is vital for new medications, treatments and technologies. Moving to the new unit will have lots of benefits to our patients and give us a wider scope of research opportunities. Having our own clinic room’s means we can recruit and see more patients, in turn improving the research experience for our patients

“Being closer to the hospital will give us a chance to work more closely with the clinical teams and integrate research with clinical practice even more.”

Pam Bill.jpgPam Bill is a research patient and has taken part in two studies so far. Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases (IMID) is a study that aims to understand why some people get these diseases. To take part in this Pam gave blood and filled in a questionnaire. She also took part in VROOM which studied the effects of a pausing a certain medication after the COVID vaccine.

The VROOM study went onto find that stopping the use of a medication called methotrexate for two weeks in people with certain inflammatory diseases improved their immune response to COVID-19 vaccines. This simple and inexpensive approach can potentially make the vaccines more effective and provide longer protection for vulnerable individuals.

Pam said:

“I am really proud to be able to be part of the clinical trials. I like to think that by doing this, I can help others with the same condition.”

Pam G.jpgAnother research patient is Pam Gardiner, who is currently taking part in the ORION trial, which a research study that aims to find out if a new cholesterol lowering injection safely reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes in people who have already had one of these conditions, or who have had an operation or procedure to unblock their arteries.

Pam said:

“If you are invited to take part in a study, I would highly recommend it. It’s not too much out of your day, the team are lovely and the new unit is great. It makes me feel proud to be part of research.”

The trial is expected to be ongoing for a couple of years but the impact could be ground-breaking for in preventing many thousands of heart attacks, strokes and bypass procedures around the world.

Anna finished by saying:

“We’re being more selective and taking on research studies that we feel are more likely to have an impact on our local communities in Cumbria.

“It’s all about advancing health care for the future generations, for our children and grandchildren. It’s work we are extremely proud of.”

The team, NCIC colleagues and research patients attended to see the official opening by Chief Executive Lyn Simpson:

Lyn said:                                                  

“I’m really proud to be officially opening the research unit today. The work of the research team is often unseen but extremely important. It drives innovation in healthcare, leading to the development of new treatments and medical technologies.

“Research promotes continuous learning and professional development among healthcare providers, enhancing our knowledge and skills. This new unit will provide many more opportunities for the team to take forward new important research.

“I want to acknowledge the research team who are dedicated to innovating and advancing health care, and I also want to say a huge thanks to those who put themselves forwards as participants. We could not do it without you.”

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