Aims of cluster

The Population Sciences Cluster works to optimise the focus, effectiveness and impact of translational research in our Biomedical Research Centre.

Key programmes

We integrate with the other research clusters and themes in an interdisciplinary fashion by engaging communities in research, informing the translational agenda of health care needs and priorities for preventive and therapeutic interventions, model potential population impacts in terms of outcomes and cost effectiveness, and investigate the effectiveness of different models of translation. We do this through five key programmes:

  • Involving the public, patients and the community in all stages of research
  • Improving the effectiveness of translational research through social sciences analyses of different models of translation
  • Development and testing of a digital infrastructure for stratified medicine and translational research
  • Making translational research more effective and efficient
  • How can translational medicine improve population health
  • The impact of the environment on respiratory and cardiovascular health.

Celebrating success

We have established a significant infrastructure to support translational research. Our key successes across our programmes include:

  • Improving the effectiveness of translational research through social science analyses of different models of translation: We have collaborated with researchers in Cluster Two in preparing the PPI strategy for the successful MRC Stratified Medicine call for Ancestry and Biological Informative Markers for stratification of Hypertension: The “AIM HY” study and continue to support the investigators organising PPI events to identify potential barriers to participation in the trial.
  • Development and testing of a digital infrastructure for stratified medicine and translational research: Lambeth DataNet (LDN) is a primary care dataset of all patients registered at general practices in Lambeth and is linked to patients clinical data. The database has become hosted by the Division of Public Health in KCL, with the BRC becoming the guardian of the data though Cluster Three and the NIHR HIC Project Manager.
  • NIHR Health Informatics Collaborative: The HIC collaboration between five BRCs (Oxford, Cambridge, GSTT/KCL, Imperial, UCL) is based around five clinical areas: GSTT leads on renal transplantation. Key progress has been made in relation to information governance to enable data sharing between the collaborating BRCs. The programme wide data sharing agreement (DSA) was signed by the Trust CEOs, providing a legal framework to share data within the themes. A transplantation exemplar study has also begun in 2015 which looks at data usage to demonstrate the use and value in addressing specific translational research questions.
  • Making translational studies more effective and efficient: The statistics consultancy within Cluster Three has supported more than 40 research studies to date, including BRC trainees, through consultancy, collaborations and training. These collaborations, particularly within Clusters One & Two have leveraged significant grant income and contributed to over 50 peer-reviewed publications.
  • Environmental impact on respiratory and cardiovascular health: A new UK Birth Cohort study “The Life Study” started in October 2014 with our researchers leading the environmental aspect investigating maternal exposure to environmental pollutants throughout pregnancy. 15 women in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy have had environmental monitoring equipment installed into their homes in the pilot phase. An important part of the pilot was the testing the acceptability and use of smart phone apps for gathering personal and environmental exposure data – this system proved a cheap and scalable method for assessing environmental stress during pregnancy for future cohort studies.
  • Breathe London: As part of the South East London Air Pollution Community Research Project the Breathe London website has been designed to give advice on air pollution and exposure. The website was launched at a public meeting in March 2015 (http://breathelondon.org) and provides a means of translating research which was undertaken to the local boroughs though straightforward advice outlining the impacts of air pollution on health along with interactive tools for reducing risk of harm through behavioural change. It is also being used for disseminating results of PPI studies and recruitment for future SELAP studies.
  • EXHALE project: The final school visits for the sixth year of the EXHALE cross-sectional school study were completed in 2015.Amongst the preliminary findings from analysis of the first three years of data (2008 – 2011) have shown that the introduction of the London Emission Zone has not been associated with year-on-year improvements in urban air quality and that children with high exposures to air pollution report more symptoms of rhinitis and have clinically significant reductions in lung volumes.

Collaborations

The cluster utilises a number of the services on offer across KHP. These include regulatory advice and support from the KHP Clinical Trials Office (CTO) and partner R&D departments at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College Hospital. In addition, clinical trial statistics, databases and management from King’s Clinical Trials Unit (KCTU), IP and licensing support and commercialisation advice from the King’s Commercialisation Institute are all exploited as necessary.

All of the cluster’s research investigators collaborate with their peers from other academic institutions in the UK and abroad as well as with commercial and non-profit organisations such as charities.

Cluster board

The Population Sciences cluster board is led by Professor Charles Wolfe. It comprises senior research clinicians from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London.

The board has oversight of the cluster’s research portfolio and acts as a forum to accurately and effectively support and monitor the research activities within the cluster. The board meetings also provide an opportunity for communicating potential opportunities for funding the expansion and future development of activities.

Cluster contact

Interim Cluster Manager : Ann-Marie Murtagh

annmarie.murtagh@gstt.nhs.uk