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NIHR teams up with NHS England and NHS Improvement to support elite university-NHS partnerships


The NIHR has joined forces with NHS England and NHS Improvement to launch a new open competition to designate the next round of Academic Health Science Centres in England.

These partnerships between top universities and outstanding NHS organisations will undertake world-leading research to tackle deadly diseases, develop new treatments and transform patient care.

The partnerships successful in applying for designation will collaborate to bring their discoveries directly to the frontline of the NHS, so patients can benefit from innovative ways to treat diseases and deliver care.

Academic Health Science Centres operate across the world – including in Australia, Qatar and Singapore. There are currently six designated Academic Health Science Centres in England, overseen by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The NIHR will oversee the new round of Academic Health Science Centres with NHS England and NHS Improvement - the first time that these organisations have collaborated to award this designation. The new centres will be designated for five years from 1 April 2020.

Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said: “The UK has a proud history of cutting-edge health research, and this Government is determined that we will continue to lead the way in turning scientific advances into new ways to prevent and treat diseases.

“Academic Health Science Centres, which bring together our most talented academics, scientists and clinicians, have proven success across the world. I am delighted we will be refreshing their remit in England so more people can benefit from the very latest treatments and the best possible care.”

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer and NIHR lead, said: “We’re pleased that NIHR is working with NHS England and NHS Improvement to drive further collaboration and strategic alignment between our leading NHS organisations and universities. These partnerships act as engines for world class research and education and the translation of new discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the NHS.

“This new designation of Academic Health Science Centres will help deliver the commitments of the Accelerated Access Collaborative and the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, ensuring that NHS patients have faster access to innovations that can transform care.”

Dr Sam Roberts, NHS director of innovation and life sciences, said: “For more than 70 years the NHS has been at the cutting-edge of scientific development, with patients benefiting from care and treatment that is always improving and evolving, supported by world-leading academic research and support from charities.

“As the NHS delivers our Long Term Plan, the Accelerated Access Collaborative will help to make the NHS the world’s most innovation-friendly health system. The designation of new Academic Health Science Centres is a key building block to making that ambition a reality.”

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