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Respiratory Translational Research Collaboration


The NIHR Respiratory Translational Research Collaboration (Respiratory TRC) brings together internationally recognised investigators in the UK's leading centres of excellence to carry out experimental and early phase research with industry, charities and other funders.

Together we design and deliver complex multi-centre studies that accelerate research for the benefit of respiratory disease patients. 

The NIHR Respiratory TRC engages in cutting-edge translational research to deliver both commercially-led and academic-led clinical studies underpinned by excellent scientific rigour.

We work at the interface of experimental medicine and early phase trials, and are involved in the development of protocols, biomarker discovery, and translational research to speed up delivery of new drugs in a range of respiratory conditions.

Work with us

We provide easy access to a network of world-class academic centres and experts, embedded in UK universities and NHS hospitals, to work collaboratively on experimental clinical studies. 

Through small, interested, focused groups of relevant expertise and simple contracting processes, we can help you to shape your protocol, provide advice on study design, and support you to deliver your research through our state-of-the art facilities. 

Our centres operate to common business processes - this makes it quicker and easier to set up your study across multiple sites. We also offer operational support, including a standard pre-approved non-disclosure agreement, contractual templates and a close working relationship with the NIHR Clinical Research Network for the identification of sites.

“The expert network helped us get the project moving incredibly quickly, whilst close coordination and excellent communication helped us deliver one of the first early phase trials in COVID-19 in the world, and under the most difficult clinical circumstances. It’s a testament to the value the Respiratory TRC brings in enabling respiratory research in the UK"
Professor Tom Wilkinson, University of Southampton.

We are keen to explore collaborations with experts based within and outside the UK, as well as the life sciences industry, charities, patient groups and other stakeholders.  

We welcome proposals from both academia and partnerships involving industry. Where industry is involved, the project can include one or more partners with one or more TRC members. 

To be suitable for TRC support a project is expected to:

  • focus on a disease area recognised as one of our areas of expertise
  • involve significant academic value and the opportunity for scientific leadership from the Respiratory TRC
  • be at a sufficiently early stage to enable input and feedback on study design and adopt a collaborative approach to study design
  • have a trial management team or delegated CRO or academic clinical trial unit in place to ensure effective study delivery.

If you have an innovation you’d like to further develop and/or test, contact us

Our expertise and capabilities

Our scientific specialties include:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary fibrosis (COPD)
  • Interstitial lung diseases, in particular idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and sarcoidosis
  • Acute lung injury including acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
  • Cystic fibrosis 
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Respiratory infections

We have set-up nation-wide research strategy groups (NRSGs) to identify key research questions and strategies to overcome barriers and promote collaborative working to deliver multi-centre studies. 

The existing NRSGs focus on the following areas:

  • Asthma (includes collaboration with  the Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership charity)
  • Cystic Fibrosis (includes collaboration with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust charity)
  • Pulmonary Hypertension (includes collaboration with the Pulmonary Hypertension Association charity). 

We also regularly review areas of unmet need to determine emerging topics of focus for the group.

Who we are

The Respiratory TRC includes 10 NIHR Biomedical Research Centres and their associated Clinical Research Facilities across the UK, and the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility in Belfast. 

These centres are world-leaders in respiratory medicine, and based within first-class NHS-university partnerships.

Each centre is represented by an academic lead who acts as an advocate for the collaboration, provides scientific input into study design, and identifies and supports collaborative and business development activities.

The breadth of respiratory expertise in the UK

This map shows the locations of the respiratory centres based across the UK (listed below) which are part of the TRC.

Our academic centres and leads

For further information about the NIHR Respiratory TRC  and to find out how to work with us, please contact us.

Our projects

The Respiratory TRC’s support for COVID-19 studies

The Respiratory TRC played a leading role in the national search for drugs to treat severe COVID-19 disease. 

For example, we helped design and expedite the delivery of a phase II double-blind placebo-controlled trial supported by drug development company Synairgen PLC, investigating if a new inhaled treatment could help reduce symptoms in hospitalised COVID-19 patients. Preliminary findings included that patients who received the interferon beta had a 79% lower risk of developing severe disease compared to placebo.  For this study, we recruited 101 patients in 9 weeks, collected more than 500 blood samples and swabs, and took just 11 weeks from set up to last patient recruitment. 

Post-Hospitalisation COVID-19 study 

Professor Chris Brightling, with other members of the Respiratory TRC,  is leading on the Post-Hospitalisation COVID-19 study (PHOSP-COVID) which looks at how different patients recover from COVID-19. This work also involves members of the NIHR Mental Health TRC, the NIHR Dementia TRC, the NIHR-Versus Arthritis UK Musculoskeletal TRC, the NIHR-BHF Cardiovascular Partnership, and has links to the NIHR Diet and Activity TRC.

Beat-Severe Asthma 

Asthma affects over 5 million people in the UK and while most respond well to currently available therapy, 3-5 in 100 sufferers have severe asthma. This is when the symptoms persist and have an impact on day-to-day life.  This multicentre platform trial, led by Professor Salman Siddiqui from Imperial College, London, and the National Heart and Lung Institute, is looking​ at the two sub-types of severe asthma, T2-High and T2-Low, and comparing two different oral drugs (an antibiotic and an eosinophil lowering biologic agent) against matching placebos, with the aim of understanding more about the condition and reducing the number of exacerbations (sudden worsening of asthmatic symptoms) that individuals experience. The programme is sponsored by the University of Leicester, funded through the NIHR Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation programme, and delivered by the Leicester Clinical Trials Unit across the UK Severe Asthma Network. Professor Siddiqui is also the lead of the TRC’s asthma nation-wide research strategy group.

Latest news on respiratory disorders

Case studies about respiratory health research