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Oxford AHSN R & D meeting 15 January 2013

Research and the Oxford AHSN

The Oxford AHSN held a stakeholders meeting on 15th January to look at the plans being formulated for developing and delivering research, and the opportunities and challenges presented. The meeting was kindly hosted by Professor Richard Ellis, Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Reading. 30 people from across the AHSN area attended and contributed in a wide-ranging discussion.

One of the key roles of the AHSN is to develop and deliver research. Research delivery across the AHSN area is overseen by NIHR Thames Valley Comprehensive Local Research Network and NIHR Topic Research Networks. The NIHR networks will, in future, function as a single network co-terminous (NIHR LCRN) with the boundaries of the AHSN. Jeremy Fairbank, Director of CLRN outlined the current network functions, including allocation of NHS support costs to ensure deliver of research across the network.

Chandi Ratnatunga presented a vision of the wider AHSN, and in particular its role in ensuring support for innovation, channelled through a series of clinical networks, eventually intended to cover all specialties. Research can only gain through a culture change in which there is much greater consistency in procedures across the OAHSN, enthusiasm for innovation and a commitment to delivering research alongside clinical activities. Jim Davies outlined the potential for better use of informatics and information technology to support delivery of clinical care and research, and Nick Edwards presented an overview of the importance of engagement with the life sciences industry and its importance to the AHSN.

Andrew Farmer presented current plans for work-plans and goals for OAHSN. These include improving the process of research governance approvals, particularly for commercial studies, increasing access to research by supporting the roll out of programmes for “consent-to-approach” linked to clinical databases and biobanks, and increasing recruitment to research studies in partnership with the clinical networks.

James Morris, Chairman of the Thames Valley CLRN, led a discussion. The ambition of the plans for the AHSN was recognised, along with the importance of identifying early objectives that could be delivered to establish the AHSN. Plans for early clinical networks (sometimes referred to as themes) were welcomed, but the importance of stressing plans to establish clinical network covering the breadth of activity was noted.   Noted also that OAHSN would not be funding clinical networks in their entirety but aim would be to provide some support/ funding.

Networking, and being proactive in bringing people together, can support integration and avoid multiple networks covering the same condition. However, many individuals across OAHSN will be common to different networks, and this will facilitate coordination and integration of activities. Although there is clear guidance that the financial management of NIHR LCRN should not be subsumed in the AHSN, this does not preclude the AHSN effectively “commissioning” research delivery from the LCRN whilst focussing on research development, for example engaging with life-sciences companies, the universities, identifying innovations from within the AHSN partners ready for research evaluation, and developing infrastructure to support research delivery that is not linked to specific studies (e.g. databases from consented individuals).
All agreed that the OAHSN had strong value as a network to bring people together.  The universities in particular would welcome further opportunities to discuss the wider aspects of research and the contribution to be made by departments perhaps not traditionally associated with clinical research.  Network can also potentially put resource into the identification and logging of project/products etc that could be commercialised

Industry partners – what can this group bring to the partnership – to include stronger relationships with potential to support development activities

The AHSN research programme will continue to develop its plans. OAHSN can also have a role in identifying and linking with clinical research not currently registered as eligible for NIHR support (not registered on the NIHR Portfolio).  Additional feedback noted the need for industry engagement in the governance of the R&D programme – currently absent. Establishing relationships with specific commercial partners as key advisers is an important way forward.


Professor Andrew Farmer

January 2013


Those present included:

Name Organisation
Alistair Fitt Oxford Brookes University
Andrew Farmer TV CLRN and R & D Programme Interim Lead
Andrew J Pollard Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford
Bethany Ball and Omer Karim Heatherwood and Wexham Park
Chandi Ratnatunga Programme Director, AHSN OUH
Heather House Oxford University Hospitals
James Morris Oxford University Hospitals
Jeremy Fairbank TV CLRN and Oxford University Hospitals
Jim Davies University of Oxford/OUH/BRC
Jitin Verma F2 Doctor
John Stedman NISE
Joost van Middendorp Bucks Healthcare and National Spinal Research Centre
Karen Barker Clinical Director – Orthopaedics, OUH
Kathryn Mitchell University of West London
Linda King Oxford Brookes University
Lynda Doyle Medical Science Liaison, Genzyme
Mark Dolman NIHR
Megan Turmezei AHSN Project Manager/OUH
Nick Edwards MedInnovate/Interim Lead Wealth Creation programme
Richard Ellis University of Reading
Ricky Sharma Clinical Lead TVCRN, University of Oxford
Shirley Reynolds University of Reading
Sian Rees University of Oxford HEXI
Stuart Bell Oxford Health NHS FT
Susan Matos University of Reading
Susan Procter Bucks New University
Tony Kirk BD/ABPI
Val Woods Thames Valley CLRN
Will Orr Royal Berkshire Hospital FT
Rupert McShane Oxford Health NHS FT