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Sir Ian Botham opens new clinical research centre

CCRI IMG_7885

Cricket legend Sir Ian Botham officially opened the Trust's new Centre for Clinical Research and Innovation today [Tuesday 18 March].

The £285,000 facility at Darlington Memorial Hospital is one of the biggest in the region, and will provide County Durham and Darlington with a high-tech centre for research, looking at a wide range of health conditions. It has been funded with income generated by the research already being undertaken by the Trust.

Sir Ian, who played for Durham County Cricket Club from 1992 - 1993, cut the ribbon on the new unit as part of his family's ongoing relationship with the Trust.

Sir Ian said: "I'm really pleased to be able to open the new research unit, it's a fantastic asset to County Durham and I hope that local people will be able to reap the rewards of the ground-breaking clinical research conducted here in the very near future.

"As a Darlington resident - and potential patient - it's reassuring to know that the Trust is at the forefront of new medical breakthroughs, and it's a testament to the great work done by everyone here that we're able to unveil this fantastic research facility."

The unit confirms the Trust's position in a national league table of organisations which carry out health research work, produced by The Guardian in association with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)*. According to the league table, the Trust is in the top 15 per cent of NHS organisations carrying out research, coming 56th out of 390 in the UK (2012/13).

The new Research Centre includes out-patient areas, a waiting room, space for in-patient research work, meeting rooms, as well as accommodation for office staff and research teams. The facility will be used by the Trust's teams working across 26 different specialities, covering a broad range of projects.

Professor Yan Yiannakou, Director of Research and Development at the Trust said: "The Trust is conducting a lot of research in a broad range of specialties and we now perform research in most of the main departments in the Trust, with more than 35 consultants leading trials. 

"The research really falls into two categories. The first is drug trials for pharmaceutical companies, which is important in making sure these trials are done in a multi-centred way across a number of different clinical research centres. It means patients here in the local area have the opportunity to access the latest drugs under development - which has obvious benefits.

"The other kind of research we do is our own, where we are driving the agenda, using our own ideas and innovations, which we have been very successful with and which attracts funding for the Trust. We have recently undertaken three large studies looking at GI disorders and breast cancer, which have attracted National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funding - demonstrating the high value of research being done here."

He added: "Research and Development work being done within the Trust is growing rapidly - we have increased research activity by an average of 38 per cent per year over the last five years. In 2012/13, 2,735 patients were involved in our research, and we recruited to 91 clinical trials - so the new CCRI will be extremely busy."

The specialties with high levels of research activity over the last few years have included cardiology, gastroenterology and liver disease, cancer (particularly breast cancer), stroke, diabetes, rheumatology and dermatology.  However, there is strong growth in other areas, such as anaesthetics, obstetrics and gynaecology, respiratory, colorectal surgery, ophthalmology and orthopaedics.

Professor Chris Gray, the Trust's Medical Director, added: "The Trust can offer the opportunity to patients to be involved in clinical trials. We aim to offer participation in trials across a range of studies - rehabilitation as well as drug trials. Studies have shown that patients cared for in departments conducting clinical trials have better outcomes and experiences - so the increase in clinical research will have direct benefits for local people."

The Trust's Research and Development Department includes a dedicated team of managers, facilitators and admin staff, led by senior manager Lynne Williams.  There are around 30 research nurses, as well as pathology and pharmacy staff, working across the Trust's sites in Durham and Darlington.

'I would like to thank all the staff for my treatment and their professionalism.'

Patient, Cardiology Department, Bishop Auckland Hospital