Guy’s and St Thomas’ has been awarded £11.8m to allow it to continue providing the state-of-the-art facilities and staff needed to conduct ground-breaking experimental medicine studies.

The funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) was awarded following a competitive bidding process. Representing an uplift on our 2017 award, it will support the Trust’s Clinical Research Facility (CRF) for five years from September 2022 and allows us to expand the volume of ground-breaking research undertaken across the Trust.

The NIHR committee said the award was being made in recognition of the strong strategic plan “including demonstration of good governance and experienced leadership”, a “clear demonstration of patient and public involvement and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion” while commenting on the quality and breadth of the early translational and experimental medicine research studies.

Our Clinical Research Facility is based in one of the largest NHS Trusts in the country, and we serve a diverse inner London population at four of our hospital sites, St Thomas’ Hospital and Evelina London (Lambeth), Guy’s Hospital (Southwark), and Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals (Chelsea). The new award supports our experimental medicine infrastructure across all sites. Our trials directly benefit patients, both immediately (participation giving access to new treatment opportunities), and longer term (through developing new standards of care to be delivered in the NHS).

We recruit more than 1 in 10 of all patients entering CRF trials nationally. Our research addresses a wide range of healthcare needs, from problems in the youngest children to diseases most common in the elderly. We specialise in trials testing new therapies and diagnostics for the first time in humans.

We have recently expanded to five research-dedicated spaces, now offering more trials to children and to adults with chest diseases. These include:

  • Early Phase Trials – MHRA-accredited Phase I Unit (Guy’s Hospital) which is one of only two such NHS-managed Units in England.
  • Cardiorespiratory Unit (Royal Brompton Hospital)
  • Imaging Unit (St Thomas’ Hospital)
  • Adult Precision Medicine Unit (St Thomas’ Hospital)
  • Paediatrics Unit – Seal and Wolf Wards (Evelina London at St Thomas’ Hospital)

The units work together in an established hub and spoke model with common governance and management, and are based in close proximity to the clinical services caring for these patients. Involvement and engagement of patients and the public provides essential guidance that drives our research priorities.

Our CRF continues to work closely with our NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), which drives laboratory research towards clinical testing, and delivers highly novel trials based on this emerging science.

Professor Ian Abbs, Chief Executive Officer at Guy’s and St Thomas’ said: “We continue with our ambition to be a world-leading centre for healthcare innovations including advanced cell and gene therapies. The NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ CRF provides researchers from the Trust and King’s College London with world class facilities and expertise to support the development of new therapies that will improve the care of our patients.”

Professor James Spicer, Director of the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ CRF said: “This new NIHR award recognises the significant progress that we have already made in supporting the development and delivery of novel therapies. It will allow us to expand our portfolio and provide trial access for more researchers and their patients. It marks a significant contribution to our mission of testing new drugs and developing sophisticated imaging and personalised medicine for children and adult patients affected by a broad range of diseases.”

Professor Robin Ali, Director of the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ BRC said: “I am delighted that the achievements of our CRF have been recognised through this award. The award will support our development of novel therapies and enable us to expand our programme of trials.

“The unrivalled infrastructure of our CRF with the support facilities co-located in our hospitals, has been key to the testing and delivery of novel advanced therapies. With the CRF embedded within the management structures of our NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ BRC and closely aligned with our Advanced Therapies Accelerator at Guy’s and St Thomas’, patients have already received several BRC experimental cell therapies in our CRF, including the MONACO trial testing a cell therapy for post COVID-19 lung fibrosis.”

Mr Mike Salmon, who was one of the first five patients to receive the experimental MONACO trial therapy in the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ CRF said: “After five weeks in ICU I spent another seven weeks in hospital and I am extremely grateful to everyone at Guy’s and St Thomas’ for their excellent care and support. Taking part in this study in the excellent Clinical Research Facility at Guy’s and St Thomas’ is my way of helping and thanking the teams at Guy’s and St Thomas’ who saved my life, so that they can develop new treatment for patients just like me.”

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