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Swansea University Medical School to Run Multi-Centre Clinical Trials


Full UKCRC Registration awarded to Swansea University Medical School to run multi-centre clinical trials

Swansea Trials Unit (STU) has become the first centre in Swansea to have received full accreditation as a trials unit from the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC), the authoritative partnership whose goal is to establish the UK as a world leader in clinical research by transforming the clinical research environment in the UK. The Unit has also secured ongoing funding of £800,000 from Health and Care Research Wales over the next three years.

Clinical trials are the benchmark by which the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of medicines, treatments and medical devices are measured. They are run in Clinical Trials Units (CTUs), which are specialist units set up with a specific remit to bring together the expertise needed including clinicians, statisticians, IT programmers and trial and data managers. Running high quality trials that meet regulatory and governance requirements is a complex process, which depends on expert design, conduct and analysis.

The UKCRC Registration Process was established for CTUs responsible for coordinating multi-centre clinical studies, to help improve the quality and quantity of available expertise to carry out UK clinical trials. Full registration is the gold standard against which all UK Trials Units are measured and brings with it the opportunity to benefit the public and patients by improving national health and increasing national wealth.

Set up at Swansea University Medical School, one of the fastest growing medical schools in the UK, STU will sit alongside the long-established Joint Clinical Research Facility which concentrates on commercial clinical trials at its two sites, one based at Morriston Hospital and a new facility at the Medical School. Together, they will position the Medical School at the forefront of clinical trials in the UK, allowing it to continue to attract research funding into Wales to develop and deliver high quality trials.

Building on the success of the Medical School in areas that were also recognised as world-leading in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, it will focus on the areas of primary and emergency care, gastroenterology and surgery and using electronic linked data sources in partnership with the Farr Institute in Swansea to deliver robust evidence that can inform the planning and delivery of health care in Wales and internationally.

In order to obtain Full Registration status, STU was required to provide evidence to a review panel of experts indicating that it had met the UKCRC’s stringent competency criteria and the accreditation recognises the expertise that STU has developed to centrally coordinate high quality multi-centre clinical trials. Built on strong foundations laid by Emeritus Professor of Clinical Trials, Ian Russell, the STU team is currently led by Professor of Health Services Research, Helen Snooks, with Dr Hayley Hutchings as Deputy Director. It works in collaboration with partners across the NHS, and particularly with Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) and Hywel Dda Health Boards and the Welsh Ambulance Services Trust (WAST) and, in December 2015, the team will be further strengthened by new Professor of Clinical Trials, Greg Fegan.

Acting Director of Swansea Trials Unit, Professor Helen Snooks, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have secured this recognition for STU, which now enables Swansea University and our collaborators to continue at the forefront of designing and running high quality clinical trials which translate into real benefits to patients.

“The STU team, with support from ABMU, Hywel Dda and WAST, have worked incredibly hard over the last 12 months to ensure that we met all of the accreditation and competency criteria required by the expert review panel. Swansea University Medical School has put high quality clinical research as part of its long term strategic plan, and we are all looking forward to taking the Unit from strength to strength.”

Dean and Head of Swansea University Medical School, Professor Keith Lloyd added: “Clinical trials are vital to how we improve treatments and outcomes for a wide range of conditions. Congratulations to Swansea Trials Unit which I am sure will help make a difference to this important area of activity””