Dame Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive Officer at Newcastle Hospitals, looks at how partnership working strengthens the research journey from ‘bench to bedside’
Wednesday April 26, 2023
Leading one of the most successful NHS teaching hospitals in the country, I see first-hand every day that research and education work best when partners work together.
At Newcastle Hospitals, our research excellence is recognised nationally and internationally in areas including but not limited to ageing, cancer, child health, diagnostics, robotic surgery, advanced therapeutics, microbiology, mitochondrial disease, immunology, transplantation, rare diseases, liver and musculoskeletal diseases.
We are proud of this legacy and were therefore delighted to unite with local partners to cement and build upon our reputation for research excellence by becoming part of Newcastle Health Innovation Partners (NHIP). NHIP is a prestigious Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) and a real badge of honour for us and our other partners: Newcastle University, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), Newcastle City Council and the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC).
The main driver for AHSCs like ours is the desire to create genuinely world class centres of innovation in UK healthcare, which will drive the adoption of new treatments within the NHS and globally. Working in partnership, our overarching goal is to improve the quality of outcomes in research, medical education and patient care.
Our patients are at the heart of everything we do at Newcastle Hospitals and the importance of taking research from bench to bedside is seen on our wards every single day. The possibilities that research can bring are endless and so it is vital that we ensure more patients can access groundbreaking treatments as quickly as possible. I believe that we can only truly achieve this when we use the diverse skills of a partnership arrangement like NHIP. It is by coming together and uniting our strengths that we can accelerate the translation of scientific breakthroughs into new ways to improve patient care and maintain the health of the public.
Some recent examples of this are:
- A new screening test for Lynch Syndrome developed in Newcastle is being rolled out to other major cities. Lynch Syndrome is a condition that increases the risk of some types of cancers and the new test provides an improved ability to screen individuals for this inherited condition, ultimately saving lives. This innovation was made possible thanks to working collaboratively with colleagues at Newcastle University and the AHSN NENC. You can read more here
- A four year old boy was the first patient to be treated in a gene therapy clinical trial for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) at the John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre, a world-leading neuromuscular research centre run by Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals. DMD is a severe genetic disease, mostly diagnosed in boys, which causes muscle waste, leading to gradual loss of mobility and sadly limits life expectancy to around early adulthood. This is a devastating condition, but we are working in partnership to discover new treatments for patients with DMD. Read more here
- A specialist cancer trials team is helping progress a pioneering treatment of a group of rare cancers called sarcomas, which is now attracting interest from experts in Canada, the USA and across Europe. Thanks to the partnership between Newcastle Hospitals and Newcastle University, one of the trials has helped shape a new method of sarcoma surgery, which uses a harmless green dye called ICG (indocyanine green) to illuminate the tumour under a special infrared camera. Sarcoma surgery requires the removal of a margin of healthy tissue around the tumour and this new technique will help surgeons to do that in a more precise way, reducing the impact for patients and improving their quality of life. Read more here
Ensuring our staff have access to research careers is also a priority for us. I know that the best ideas come from the people working directly with our patients – and we need to nurture their talent and knowledge by offering them support in their research journey. That’s why it’s so important to have NHIP Academy, to provide colleagues with the opportunity to unlock their potential through research – including doctors, nurses and other professional groups.
Our ultimate goal as a Trust is to deliver outstanding care for our patients. Working with others to innovate is central to achieving that and so we are delighted to be part of NHIP. I know that by working together we will build on our strong existing clinical, research and educational relationships, taking research from bench to bedside, for the benefit of our patients.