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Respiratory Translational Research Collaboration

Funding for industry

Funding for researchers

Respiratory disorders specialty therapy area

NIHR 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.

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
  • Acute lung injury including acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary fibrosis (COPD)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Interstitial lung diseases, in particular idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and sarcoidosis
  • Pleural medicine
  • Respiratory infection(s)

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

The NRSGs focus on the following areas:

WS1 Cystic Fibrosis (CF) workstream led by Prof Jane Davies, (Imperial College London)
- By building on the established infrastructure in CF, the group aims to maximise the effective delivery and outputs of research and to drive new collaborations based on patient priorities.

WS2 Pleural Medicine led led by Co-chairs: Professors Nick Maskell (Bristol), Najib Rahman (Oxford) and Stefan Marciniak (Cambs).
- The group are looking at Pathophysiology of pleural diseases, Biomarker discovery and Pneumothorax with support sample capture in patients undergoing primary pneumothorax surgery.

WS3 Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) 1 led by co-chairs: Wei Shen Lim, Liz Sapey (Birmingham) leading on ARI: Diagnosis and biomarkers and Rachael Evans (Leicester) leading on Post-infectious sequelae.
- The group are looking to establish a research strategy for ARI and sequelae, understand current research gaps and look ahead to secure a multi-centre diagnostic / pathway clinical trial in ARI exploring mechanisms and/or biomarkers.

WS4 Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 2 led by co-chairs: Professors Tom Wilkinson (Southampton) and Mona Bafadhel (Kings College London)
- The group are looking to develop a national COPD Cohort with industry support to characterise early disease and endotypes of disease.
- Standardise sampling and storage methodology to enable large scale mechanistic and proof of concept studies enabled by decentralised trial delivery and patient awareness.
- Extend the work of the James Lind Alliance priority setting partnership in COPD exacerbations to the broader disease context
- Increase UK COPD research funding through collaborative grant applications and industry engagement.

WS5 Asthma 2 led by Professor Salman Siddiqui (Imperial College London)
- The group aim to define and agree research priority areas in asthma
- Work with people (including children) with asthma to maximise the impact of asthma research in the UK and globally

Looking in 3 sub-workstream areas of;
Diagnostics & Monitoring
Digital health & RWE
Experimental Medicine

WS6 Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) led by co-chairs Professors Joanna Porter (University College London) and Nik Hirani (Edinburgh)

- The group are looking to
Develop innovation, technology and standardised SOPs / practice for sample collection [to drive research]
Drive Education and engage with ECRs
Engagement with industry
Promote patient awareness, engagement and advocacy in ILD experimental medicine
Secure future Funding
1 includes collaboration with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust charity
2 includes collaboration with the Asthma + Lung UK charity

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 Respiratory collaboration is chaired by Prof Alex Horsley from the NIHR BRC in Manchester, and connects world-leading research expertise and infrastructure for health behaviour research Collaboration Management is provided by Mrs Maria Marsh also in Manchester.

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

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

PHOSP-COVID looks at how different patients recover from COVID-19, and the factors involved in those with poorest outcomes.

Steering Committee member Professor Chris Brightling along with other members of R-TRC leads this study, bringing together a wide range of researchers, clinicians and charities who want to explore the long-term effects of COVID-19 and understand what the ongoing medical, psychological and rehabilitation needs are.
The PHOSP-COVID team will then develop trials of new strategies for clinical care, including personalised treatments for groups of patients based on the particular disease characteristics they show as a result of having COVID-19 to improve their long term health.

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.Publication: Long Covid –Scientific Summit

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.