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2020 NIHR ACF PES Birmingham Therapeutics or Clinical Pharmacology



2020 NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship in Priority Research Themes

HEE Local Office: West Midlands
Medical School: University of Birmingham
Research Theme: Therapeutics or Clinical Pharmacology
Specialty Options: Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics or Neurology or Ophthalmology

Plain English Summary

In Birmingham there are exceptionally strong opportunities to develop research in therapeutics with a Neurology, Ophthalmology and Clinical Pharmacology focus. We have internationally leading translational research programs moving basic discovery science into clinical trials.

Inflammation on the surface of the eye is a chronic disabling, painful and potentially blinding condition. If severe it may cause sight-threatening scarring of the transparent window of the eye (cornea). Treatment remains the greatest challenge with 5 million people worldwide blind in both eyes from corneal scarring. A significant unmet need in neurology is the development of novel targeted therapeutics for raised intracranial pressure. The neurological research portfolio focusses of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), traumatic brain injury, headache and space-flight associated raised intracranial pressure. In these conditions there is a lack of long term effective treatment and consequently high morbidity. Novel drugs are thus vital to reduce patient disability. Specialists in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics have a particular interest in delivering safe and effective medicines and increasingly contribute to the management of individual patients with complex prescribing needs, including multimorbidity, polypharmacy, adherence issues, and medication intolerance. One specific challenge is presented by patients with resistant hypertension who are at very high cardiovascular risk and frequently have poor long term adherence and poor tolerance to prescribed medication.

Projects in ophthalmology focus on areas representing therapeutic targeting of wound healing and tissue regeneration and functional rehabilitation. The ‘Eyedrops to reduce inflammation and scarring’ theme includes a bioengineered, multi-purpose, biologically ‘smart’ polymer dressing with bi-phasic properties: a soft-solid on the surface of eye that shears to become a liquid on blinking that exerts a therapeutic effect. The research portfolio for treatments of raised intracranial pressure utilises a bench to bedside approach including preclinical models and biomarkers studies which translate into clinical trials. Aiming to translate the research portfolio into the clinic, the portfolio works closely with Industry, particularly the University start-up company Invex Therapeutics. The main focus in Clinical Pharmacology is medication adherence and patient behaviour particularly in relation to hypertension and cardiovascular disease, antimicrobial stewardship in electronic prescribing environments and pharmaco-epidemiology based research using data from the local Electronic Prescribing System (PICS) or The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database of GP data.

Trainees will have the opportunity to work with clinicians and scientists with well-established world-class collaborations with biomaterial and novel drug development teams and access to expertise in animal models, drug screening, reformulation experts, cell biology and protection of novel intellectual property. There is also the ability to recruit large, well-defined patient cohorts and engage with early phase clinical trials evaluating novel therapeutics.

Research projects will be discussed in partnership with our Patient Involvement Groups (PPI) and fine-tuned according to their comments. Results of the research will be presented at National and International meetings and meetings of the Patient Groups and published in scientific peer-reviewed journals.