Leeds jobs to speed up medical advances

March 4, 2005

Thirty-five research posts are to be created at Leeds University with the launch of a UK clinical research network that aims to speed up the application of medical advances in patient care.

The network will be coordinated by a consortium including the university, Leeds Teaching Hospitals National Health Service Trust, University College London, the UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and the Medical Research Council's Clinical Trials Unit in London.

It will be modelled on the National Cancer Research Network, set up at Leeds in 2001, that has doubled the number of people involved in cancer clinical trials in England. The initiative will support researchers working in areas such as medicines for children, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, mental health, cancer and stroke.

Peter Selby, director of the NCRN, described the venture as "the most exciting development in clinical research nationally or internationally in recent decades".

He said recent advances in cell and molecular biology, genetics, immunology and pharmacology had radically improved understanding of the mechanisms of disease.

But turning this basic science into benefits for the patient required more high-quality clinical research, he added.

He said: "The network will bring together partner organisations to speed up the development of new medicines and treatments from the laboratory to the patient's bedside, meaning more patients benefit from the latest scientific advances. It will also ensure healthcare is based on sound evidence.

"Our evidence-based approach should place the UK at the forefront of clinical research," Professor Selby said.

Patrick Vallance, head of UCL's Medical School, said the NHS had the potential to provide the best base for clinical trials. He added: "So far it has not been organised properly to allow that to happen. The network is being set up to put in place the infrastructure needed to support it."

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