Research Matters (Issue 2 - Jan 2016)

Page 1

Research Matters

News from across NHS Research Scotland (NRS) Issue 2 | January 2016

Delivering Research Excellence New Year Honours Professor Jill Belch awarded 3

Charity Collaborations Boost to Scottish 5

‘Life changing’ studies Scottish trials offer patient hope….page 9

NRS Conference Celebration of Scottish 11

Stay in touch Strengthening communication across NRS….page 12 Much more inside...

NHS Research Scotland

The Year Ahead... As we settle into the new year and the second issue of Research Matters, it is an apt time to reflect on the changes and developments across NHS Research Scotland (NRS) through 2015, and the strong position it has secured as we move into 2016. Scotland’s new Health and Social Care Research Strategy launched in October 2015, providing the underpinning framework to support health research in Scotland over the next five years. The strategy identifies four areas critical to our future success: 1. Efficient R&D support for Research 2. Partnership with Scottish Patients and Public 3. Targeted deployment of Resources 4. Investing in the Future Each of these areas are critical to realising our national ambition. Working in collaboration with others is a theme that already applies across all these areas, and is one that will be built on as we deliver beneficial change over the next five years. Indeed, this issue of Research Matters highlights the additional funding for Scottish led research being leveraged through strong charity collaborations (Page 5). Read more about the recent announcement with Breast Cancer Now and how we plan to make funding opportunities for Scottish researchers easier to navigate. (Page 6) Navigating the Scottish research landscape is also being simplified with the launch of the new NRS website - Within only 6 weeks we have seen nearly 50% more visitors than the same period last year (Page 12). Let’s capitalise on this resource and ensure the strength, value and quality of Scottish research is well promoted and our achievements shared widely.

NHS Research Scotland

Within this issue we also outline the significant personnel changes across the NRS Nodes. Professor Julie Brittenden has travelled south to Glasgow to take up the post of R&D Director for NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (Page 3); while Professor Maggie Cruikshank takes up post as Interim R&D Director at NHS Grampian. Changes are also afoot at NHS Tayside with the retirement of R&D Director, Professor Jill Belch. We welcome Dr Jacob George as Interim R&D Director; and in a fitting tribute we celebrate Professor Jill Belch’ OBE for services to medicine as part of the New Year Honours List (Page 4). Speciality Leads have also been appointed across Gastrointestinal; Hepatology; Metabolic and Endocrine; plus Oral and Dental; and the Mental Health network is boosted with a new Network Manager and Research Associate (Page 7 - 8). Without doubt, 2016 will be a busy year. As ever we hope you find value in Research Matters and encourage your contribution to future issues as we work to strengthen links across Scotland. NHS Research Scotland Strategy Board Mr Mike Stevens (Chair)

Head of Chief Scientist Office Professor Julie Brittenden

R&D Director, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Professor Maggie Cruikshank

Interim R&D Director, NHS Grampian Dr Jacob George

Interim R&D Director, NHS Tayside Professor Dave Newby

R&D Director, NHS Lothian


In this edition: 

Movers and shakers across the R&D community - read more on Page 4

New Year Honours for NHS Tayside R&D Director - read more on Page 4

Collaboration with 17 leading charities boosts Scottish-led research - read more on Page 5

Funding boost for Breast Cancer Research - read more on Page 6

National clinical leads appointed to Gastrointestinal Disorders, Hepatology, Metabolic and Endocrine Disorders, and Oral and Dental - read more on Page 7

Mental Health Network welcomes new Network Manager - read more on Page 8

Alzheimer study opens across Scotland - read more on Page 9

Golden Jubilee National Hospital leads ‘life-changing’ lung trial - read more on Page 10

NHS Research Scotland conference - your pictures, tweets and feedback on 2015 - read more on Page 11

Connect with NRS! With a re-launched website, growing twitter presence and packed events calendar there are even more opportunities to share the great research work across Scotland read more on Page 12

Get in touch

Research Bulletin

Send articles, photographs or feedback to:

Remember our monthly e-bulletin is issued the first week of each month.

e: t: 0141 951 5508

Publication Dates Issue

Submission deadline

Spring (April)

1 April 2016

Summer (June/July)

3 June 2016

Autumn (October)

5 October 2016

Contributions from across the research community are vital to sustain the publication and ensure relevance.

Look out for it in your inbox! If you don’t receive you can subscribe via Insert your email address at the foot of the webpage beside ‘Newsletter’


Grampian to Glasgow Professor Julie Brittenden makes the move Professor Julie Brittenden has joined NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde as Research and Development Director and Consultant Vascular Surgeon; and also holds a Professorship at University of Glasgow (College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences). Bringing a wealth of experience, Julie is set to further improve research and development opportunities at Scotland’s largest health board. “There is a very strong research-orientated culture within NHSGGC. Staff are enthusiastic about exploring means of improving patient care and carrying out patient studies involving new drugs and treatments. “And at the QEUH, we have great facilities in a fantastic new building. This is a dynamic and exciting time for the Board, with opportunities in research and development to get even better.”

New Year Honours for R&D Director OBE awarded to Professor Jill Belch “I am absolutely delighted to have received this award. I accepted it on behalf of the teams I worked with as this is as much their Honour as mine. My thanks to those in the Tayside Medical Science Centre and all the Research Management team in the School of Medicine for their support - I share this award with you." Professor Jill Belch

New Appointments

As former Research and Development Director in NHS Tayside and a member of the NRS Strategy Board , Professor Belch has contributed to the successful strategic direction of clinical research infrastructure and funding across Scotland. In her personal research career, Professor Belch has led more than 30 international multicentre clinical trials and won in excess of £32M of peer-reviewed grant funding over 27 years. She led the Research Institute within University of Dundee Medical School until May 2015 and saw it achieve a number one ranking in the UK for impact in the Research Excellence Framework 2014, the main assessment of research quality in the UK. Professor Belch has also held the roles of Director of the Tayside Academic Health Science Centre (TASC) and co-Director of the Academic Health Science Partnership.

NHS Research Scotland


NRS Nodes

New Appointments With the move of Professor Julie Brittenden from NHS Grampian to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the retiral of Professor Jill Belch at NHS Tayside; changes have been made to the R&D Directors across our main nodes. Regional nodes play a leading role in supporting the delivery of research and R&D Directors from these Health Boards form part of the NRS Strategy Board providing regional expertise and an in-depth view of research activity across Scotland Read more about our nodes at

NHS Greater NHS Grampian Professor Maggie Cruikshank Interim R&D Director NORTH

NHS Tayside Dr Jacob George Interim R&D Director NHS Lothian Professor Dave Newby R&D Director



Glasgow & Clyde Professor Julie Brittenden R&D Director


Charity Collaborations Positive collaboration with a range of medical research charities and patient groups supports ground -breaking research in Scotland and across the UK. From the largest charities, such as Cancer Research UK and British Heart Foundation, to much smaller rare disease charities, these collaborations can include joint delivery of trials and studies, investment in research facilities or funding research fellowships to advance understanding and treatment of key diseases. Within Scotland, the Chief Scientist Office has worked closely with a range of charities to deliver co-funding arrangements with 17 research charities. This has led to eleven project calls and five personal award calls, delivered through bi-partite and tri-partite funding models. These collaborations allow targeted research funding in particular diseases and leverage considerable additional funding for Scottish – led research.

Research Projects Research Projects with...

Clinical Fellowships with...

Academic Fellowship with...

A number of funding calls are still currently open for applications 

CSO and Arthritis Research UK - 16 March 2016

CSO and Wellbeing of Women - 8 February 2016

Clinical Research Fellowship in Progressive Supranuclear Palsy - 18 March 2016

More information available at:

NHS Research Scotland


Funding for Breast Cancer Research Latest collaboration announced Funding of £450,000 to support Scottish-led breast cancer research has been made available thanks to a joint partnership between the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) and charity Breast Cancer Now. Health Secretary Shona Robison announced the funding on 25 January 2016 during a visit to Scotland’s newest radiotherapy centre - Lanarkshire Beatson, situated at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie. The investment will be split between cancer research projects, with the first award of £210,000 going to Dr Stephen Tait, from the University of Glasgow’s Beatson Institute, to carry out a three year study into breast cancer development. “This collaboration between The Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government, Dr Stephen Tait at the University of Glasgow and Breast Cancer Now is exactly the kind of partnership we need to help stop women dying from breast cancer.

“This joint grant from Breast Cancer Now and The Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government will enable studies into the pro-cancer protein MCL-1, which has been linked to poor patient outcomes.

“Over 1,000 women die from breast cancer each year in Scotland - they are mothers, grandmothers, daughters and friends. Every partnership and investment in research gets us closer to our vision that by 2050 no women will die of breast cancer.”

"We hope that this research could lead to new ways to make breast cancer treatments more effective. Exciting research projects are underway across Scotland and it’s great that the University of Glasgow is at the forefront of research into this disease.”

Mary Allison, Director for Scotland at Breast Cancer Now

Dr Stephen Tait, Senior Lecturer, Beatson Institute of Cancer Research

Funding Calls If you are considering funding opportunities for 2016 take a look on our funding pages at We are working to develop a single source of funding information for Scottish researchers. This will combine a range of funding calls from multiple sources in a single, comprehensive database. This will provide ‘at a glance’ opportunities open to Scottish researchers with key information on deadlines, application, funding body, category and budget. Look out for more details coming soon and if you have ideas or contributions to support development of the tool, get in touch via


Strengthening the Network New National Clinical Leads Appointed in key specialties National clinical leads have been appointed to Gastrointestinal Disorders; Hepatology; Metabolic and Endocrine Disorders; and Oral and Dental. These roles provide national leadership in the development of clinical research activity in Scotland and ensure the effective delivery of research projects within the specialty including increasing the number of patients enrolled into trials. Hepatology Professor John Dillon University of Dundee

Oral and Dental Professor Jan Clarkson University of Dundee

Gastrointestinal Disorders Dr Charlie Lees NHS Lothian / University of Edinburgh

Oral and Dental Dr David Conway University of Glasgow

Metabolic and Endocrine Disorders Professor Graham Leese University of Dundee

Read more about our new National Clinical Leads at

All research in Scotland lies within the remit of at least one network or specialty group (SG). For the first time all 23 research areas are presented on the NRS website. This includes full details of our Research Champions, Speciality Leads and support teams plus an overview of research studies and activity in each area, including training, events and more. Find out more at:

NHS Research Scotland


Boost to Mental Health Network Network welcomes two new staff Dr Laura Hodges , Network Manager - Mental Health With a PhD in Clinical Psychology, alongside five years previous experience as Research Associate with the Mental Health Network, Laura is delighted to return as Network Manager following a period away as Senior Research Co-ordinator and Trial Manager in Psychiatry, Oncology, Dementia and Reproductive Health. “I am delighted to return to the Network Manager role. I hope that we can continue to support high quality clinical research across Scotland, and build on our engagement with academics, clinicians and the public. I am excited about the challenges ahead and would like to see the Network ‘grow’ in terms of it’s geographical reach for supporting mental health research, and in facilitating new research ideas and the submission of grant applications. “ Contact Info: Tel: 0131 537 6273 Email:

Dr Kate McAllister, Research Associate - Mental Health Due to join the network in March, Kate’s principal role will be the co-ordination of commercial clinical trials, engagement with public, academic and clinical stakeholders and supporting the research development work of the network. Kate is currently Research Officer for the MRC Dementia Platform UK and completed a PhD, at the University of Cambridge, investigating early ageing in Down’s syndrome. She has been involved in a wide range of research programmes, including novel ways to overcome overeating in Prader-Willi Sydrome, and the role of sleep in Huntington’s disease. Kate is also very involved in public engagement and was recently awarded the Royal Society of Biology UK Science Communication Award. We look forward to welcoming Kate to the network. 8

Alzheimer Study opens across Scotland People with Alzheimer’s disease who live in Scotland are being asked to consider taking part in a groundbreaking government-funded trial. The RADAR (Reducing pathology in Alzheimer’s Disease through Angiotensin taRgeting) trial is investigating if a drug normally used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) has additional properties that could slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in people with and without hypertension. It is hoping to recruit approximately 230 participants, together with a similar number of carers, from across the UK including sites covering Tayside, Lothian, Grampian, Glasgow, Border and Lanarkshire areas, supported by the NRS Dementia and Neurodegenerative network. People with Alzheimer’s disease who have high or normal blood pressure can take part if they meet certain eligibility criteria and RADAR will use brain imaging to measure whether losartan reduces the rate of brain shrinkage that is known to occur in AD. It will also be using what are standard questionnaires on memory performance and quality of life – important indicators of whether the drug might be helpful.

“We are absolutely delighted that so many Scottish sites are able to offer people with Alzheimer’s disease the opportunity to take part in this important study.” Professor Peter Connelly, NRS Dementia and Neurodegenerative Disease Research Champion In Scotland 90 participants will be recruited in: 

Tayside - Catriona McCaw / 01738 414535

Glasgow - Catriona Mcneill / 0141 211 4955

Lanarkshire - Veronica Smith / 0141 211 4955

Grampian - Alison McBain / 01224 557948

Lothian - Lewis Killin / 0131 537 3806

About the trial Led by academics from the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Queen’s University Belfast, and University College London and hosted by North Bristol NHS Trust, this multi-centre clinical trial, will investigate if losartan, a blood pressure drug that first became available in 1995, can complement current treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers believe losartan can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease by improving brain blood flow and altering chemical pathways that cause brain cell damage, brain shrinkage and memory problems. It is a double blinded placebo-controlled randomised trial.

NHS Research Scotland


Join Dementia Research is being used to help with recruitment to the RADAR study and with the support of the NRS Dementia and Neurodegenerative Network there has been a 12% increase in sign ups, equating to over 1000 volunteers joining, through December alone! The Join Dementia Research service allows anyone with and without dementia to sign up using basic demographic and health information and be matched to dementia research studies in their area. Research teams can then approach potential volunteers about their particular study and the volunteer can decide whether to take part on a case-by-case basis. People can sign up to Join Dementia Research to see if they are a potential match to the RADAR study either online at or by contacting one of the charity helplines of Alzheimer Scotland (0808 808 3 000) or Alzheimer’s Research UK (0300 111 5 111). Alternatively, they can contact the Scottish Dementia Clinical Research Network directly on 01738 562322.

TRANSFORM Study reports positive patient experience The Golden Jubilee National Hospital is the first in Scotland to fit an emphysema patient with groundbreaking, minimally invasive, implantable lung valves, as part of the clinical study TRANSFORM. Tiny one way valves are placed in the patients lung using a bronchoscope and are designed to block airflow to diseased regions of the lung. This allows healthy regions to expand and function more efficiently, enabling better breathing.

Emphysema, often associated with smoking in the west of Scotland, is a major burden of a disease and gives rise to a poor quality of life and premature death so it is hoped this technology will benefit more patients and dramatically improve their quality of life. Consultant Lung Surgeon at the Golden Jubilee, Alan Kirk said: “The Golden Jubilee is committed to leading quality, research and innovation for NHS Scotland and our clinical study on these one way valves has found that after treatment patients will breathe far more effectively making their quality of life much better. “The TRANSFORM study is a vital multi-national trial to evaluate the multi-efficacy of the valves and we really want to improve awareness of this procedure and receive more referrals from GPs and hospitals. We are confident that long term this procedure may be an alternative to more invasive surgery for patients suited to this treatment.”


NRS Conference The NHS Research Scotland (NRS) Annual Conference took place on Wednesday 28 October 2015, bringing together over 400 delegates from across NHS, academia, industry and third sector. The conference, the largest held to date, showcased the best examples of clinical research across Scotland, and explored key opportunities and challenges for the sector, now and in the future. A thank you to all delegates for their participation in the conference and to our speakers for their support.

Mr Jamie Hepburn, Minster for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, launches Scotland’s new Health and Social Care Research Strategy....

Chief Scientist for Scotland, Professor Andrew Morris provided a strategic overview of the research landscape in Scotland.

What did you think? 

“Excellent day - I found it inspiring and a great day to catch up with past colleagues “

“Great to be kept up to date on the ground breaking research that’s happening in Scotland”

“Last presentation was fantastic Prof McInnes was an excellent speaker “

“Breakout sessions were all equally as interesting and it's also a good sign that I wanted to be in two places at once! “

35 inspirational speakers 24 great exhibitors 28 impressive posters 400+ delegates

Professor Anna Dominiczak from University of Glasgow outlined the collaborative approaches to research in Scotland.

Top tweets

What you want to see in 2016! 

“More networking and discussion sessions”

“International speaker”

“Perhaps a shuttle bus to and from the station would be helpful“

“More from the research fellows”

Plans for 2016 are underway….stay up to date @NHSResearchScot #NRSConf16

NHS Research Scotland


Keep up to date... There are more ways than ever to stay up to date with the work of NHS Research Scotland (NRS). Our brand new website launched on 4 December 2015 and brings together content from multiple sources including our topic networks which are now featured in one place, for the first time. Improved navigation, integration of social media and fresher look and feel provides a strong platform to aid further development. We have lots planned for Phase 2 as we continue to develop as the ‘go to resource’ for health research information in Scotland. If you have ideas or content you would like to see get in touch at 47.3% increase

In unique visitors compared with same period last year.

(Dec 2014/Jan 2015 compared with Dec 2015/ Jan 2016)

240% increase

In site content compared with previous website

Meet us at... NHS Research Scotland will be hosting, supporting, exhibiting and attending a range of events in 2016 including: Diabetes UK 2 - 4 March, SECC, Glasgow International Nursing Research Conference 6 - 8 April 2016, EICC, Edinburgh

Follow us at… @NHSResearchScot In line with the launch of our new website we have also increased our twitter activity to provide regular, timely updates from NRS.

8th European Conference on Rare Diseases 26 - 28 May, EICC, Edinburgh

312% follower increase

NHS Scotland Event 14 - 15 June, SECC, Glasgow

(284 followers in January 2015 compared with 1172 in January 2016)

Find full information on our events calendar at If you would like to get involved or showcase your work contact:

since January 2015

Remember to send your updates , news and achievements to


NHS Research Scotland (NRS) is a partnership of Scottish NHS Boards and the Chief Scientist Office of Scottish Government. Registered Number: GB 236303. Registered address: The Golden Jubilee National Hospital, Fourth Floor East, Agamemnon St, Clydebank, G81 4DY Published by NHS Research Scotland. All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced in whole or part without prior permission of NHS Research Scotland (or other copyright owners). While every effort is made to ensure that the information given here is accurate, no legal responsibility is accepted for any errors, omissions or misleading statements. NRS/2016/01