We are very pleased to be given this opportunity to introduce ourselves, the R&D Department and our activities to you all as our RBHH colleagues. Our merger offers opportunities to strengthen research outputs through collaborations and sharing of expertise across the recently expanded R&D environment. We hope that this edition of the RBHH research newsletter provides you all with an overview of our research environment at Guy’s and St Thomas, its infrastructure, capabilities and expertise.

At Guy’s and St Thomas’ we have an international reputation for undertaking pioneering clinical research across a wide spectrum of disease areas. Our R&D department employs around 600 people across 17 clinical directorates within the Trust, and within King’s College London which  includes a range of researchers, research support staff, research nurses and administrative staff senior managers and technical managers. Our cutting edge experimental medicine infrastructure, capabilities and expertise of our teams as well as world class collaborations enable us to deliver research with local, regional, national and global impact. In the 2019 NIHR League Tables we were the NHS Trust with the highest number of studies open (550), and one of the top 10 recruiters to clinical research in England (over 19,500). We currently have 910 studies open and an additional 575 studies in follow-up, recruiting 23,987 participants to date (2020/21), to studies across our research portfolio of commercial and non-commercial studies. Our R&D world class research teams also lead the country in the top ten citations for our research work. In 2020 /21 our teams led NHS COVID-19 efforts to develop diagnostics, treatments and vaccines and published 286 papers. We opened 100 COVID-19 studies; 21 UPH studies, 4 vaccine taskforce studies and a further 75 non-UPH studies. To date these have recruited a total of 18,360 participants; 8,843 participants to UPH studies, 1,133 participants recruited to vaccine studies and 8,384 participants to non UPH studies.

We’ve held NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) designation with our academic partner King’s College London since 2007 when we became one of the first five comprehensive B RC in England. In the last round of BRC awards in 2017, the NIHR awarded us £64.4 million over five years to enable us to continue our ground-breaking translational research into innovative new treatments for patients.  We are currently in the process of seeking continued BRC designation and funding under the new NIHR competition which was launched in April 2021, and which is being led by the BRC Director Professor Matt Brown.  Our NIHR Clinical Research Facility has held its designation since 2012, renewed in 2017 with an award of £7.3 million over five years. The CRF has four distinct Units; acardiometabolic unit at St Thomas’ hospital I close proximity to the CRF paediatric and imaging units; an MHRA accredited Phase I unit is based at Guy’s Hospital. We are the only MHRA accredited NHS-managed CRF in London, and one of only two units with this accreditation in England. Due to the extensive infrastructure on the Guy’s hospital, the campus has been designated an experimental medicine hub; the most recent addition is the BRC-operated Advanced Therapies Accelerator which was officially opened on 10 June 2021, with Professor Robin Ali as its Director. The ATA places Guy’s and St Thomas’ at the heart of the movement to deliver gene and cell therapies for conditions such as cancer, diabetes, genetic disorders and neuro-degenerative diseases to patients. The Trust hosts the NIHR Clinical Research Network in South London (with LCRN staff hosted within our R&D department creating a collegiate environment that fosters collaborations across the whole organisation and the wider research network. In partnership with the University of Leeds, we also hold the contract from the DHSC to provide the NIHR Clinical Research Network Co-coordinating Centre (NIHR CRNCC), since April 2015 which runs until 2024. This Consortium of the Trust and University of Leeds also draws in expertise from the University of Liverpool, Newcastle, Imperial and King’s College London in an alliance to deliver many aspects of the NIHR CRNCC’s activities. Through the CRNCC the Trust is able to influence research strategy at a national level.

As a key stakeholder in the, King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, we are founding members of the KHP Clinical Trials Office. The KHP CTO manages all aspects of commercial clinical trials activity across all partners within KHP from initial contact with industry through to feasibility assessments, contractual negotiations and financial management of commercial trials activity.  The CTO also supports our non-commercial clinical trials activity through the management of all aspects of regulatory approvals for trials sponsored within KHP including monitoring, quality management and works very closely with the MHRA and other regulatory bodies.

We hope that this newsletter provides you with a useful introduction to research at GSTT.  We welcome any discussions about the activities and infrastructure described here and look forward to meeting and working with you all going forward.

Best wishes

Professor Charles Wolfe, Director, Research and Development and Dr Kate Blake, Director of R&D Strategy.