United Kingdom

Research centre officially opened at the Royal Free Hospital

An official opening has been held for the new research centre at the Royal Free Hospital.

The NIHR Royal Free Clinical Research Facility enables patients to participate in early-phase studies, leading to more effective treatments for conditions including cancer, liver disease and haemophilia.

Since the facility opened its doors last year, hundreds of patients have been involved in world-leading research, including in the development of two covid-19 vaccines.

Trials are also under way on treatments for a rare group of conditions known as lysosmal storage disorders and a blood pressure disorder called pulmonary arterial hypertension.

The centre received funding from the Royal Free Charity and a £4.9 million grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

Clinicians, researchers, patients, staff from the Royal Free Charity and NIHR representatives attended the official opening of the centre on Thursday.

This Is Local London: Attendees at the opening of the Royal Free's research centre included (l-r) John Connolly, Louise Knowles, Professor Pratima Chowdary, Judy Dewinter and Professor Tim MeyerAttendees at the opening of the Royal Free’s research centre included (l-r) John Connolly, Louise Knowles, Professor Pratima Chowdary, Judy Dewinter and Professor Tim Meyer (Image: rfh)

Facility director Tim Meyer said: “Our purpose-built clinical space is being used to develop ground-breaking treatment for a broad range of medical conditions. We have the capacity and the capability to manage complex and intensive studies. We are now delivering on our goal to provide our local and distant patient populations the opportunity to participate in cutting edge research providing access to new treatments, devices and diagnostic tools.”

Farhan Naim, Royal Free London research and development director, described the facility as an “important piece of the jigsaw” in becoming one of the country’s top-ten clinical research trustss.

He said: “Its co-location with the Institute of Immunity and Transplantation in the Pears Building will allow us to provide a full bench to bedside research service that will benefit our patients immensely.”    

Patient and Royal Free Charity chair Judy Dewinter said: “As a long-term patient myself with an incurable blood cancer I know how reliant I am on new and effective treatments on the occasions when I relapse. I’m so grateful for the patients who have come before me who have taken part in research. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them.”  

Professor Pratima Chowdary, director of the haemophilia centre at the RFH, said: “It is no exaggeration to say research transforms lives. The CRF will provide more opportunities for research, including for our haemophilia patients, and provide training for the next generation of clinical researchers.”

Louise Knowles, who leads the NIHR Faculty and is deputy director, head of research capacity and growth at the Department of Health and Social Care, added: “It is fantastic to see the facility, hear first-hand about the research currently taking place and the ambitions for the future. This represents a real opportunity for patients and staff at the Royal Free London to benefit from the research that the NIHR CRF will support.”

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