What we do

We make research happen by providing funding, training and other support to local qualified NHS providers (such as local hospitals and GP surgeries) so that they are able to improve healthcare by running clinical research studies. For example, during 2016/17 our budget fully or part-funded more than 500 staff, including research nurses who are able to offer patients in NHS hospitals the opportunity to take part in a research study. We also offer a comprehensive training programme for NHS professionals who want to get involved with clinical research.

The local clinical research network is hosted by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and is closely aligned with other clinical research organisations in the area and we're well-connected throughout the region and work closely with all local hospital trusts, as well as GP surgeries, Clinical Commissioning Groups and other NHS organisations.

Who's who?

Dr Belinda Lennox

Clinical Director

Belinda is Senior Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry and honorary consultant psychiatrist at Oxford Health. She is also Deputy Director of the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for Oxford and Clinical Lead of the Early Intervention in Mental Health Clinical Network at the Oxford Academic Health Science Network (AHSN). 

Dr Andrew Protheroe

Clinical Co-director

Andrew is a Consultant Medical Oncologist and Associate Professor within the University of Oxford Department of Oncology at the Oxford Cancer and Haematology Centre. He has specialised in Urological Oncology at Oxford since 2001, and has run multiple clinical studies in urological cancer.  He was previously the National Cancer Research Network Clinical Lead for the Thames Valley. He is currently a member of the  testicular cancer National Cancer Research Institute Clinical Studies Group.  

Val Woods

Chief Operating Officer

Val Woods was appointed as Chief Operating Officer in April 2014, and is responsible for the leadership and oversight of the work of the Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands. She was Senior Manager of the Thames Valley Comprehensive Local Research Network from 2009-2014. Val is a Chartered Accountant and became involved with the NHS through her appointment as Non-executive Director of the inaugural Board of South Central Ambulance Service and Chair of the Audit Committee.  




Our performance 

Through building stronger research networks the LCRN has overseen an increase in research activity in Thames Valley of 791 studies involving 41,691 participants in its first year, 2014/15, to 967 studies involving 47,220 participants in 2017/18. Notable performance in the 2016/17 NIHR research activity league table included Oxford University Hospitals NHS Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust being ranked second for the most studies and third for the most participants for acute trusts and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust being ranked second and first among mental health trusts in those categories.


Case study: "Bionic Eye"

In 2016, one of our portfolio studies made international headlines. Rhian Lewis, who has retinitis pigmentosa (a type of gradual sight loss) received a retinal implant and was able to read the time for the first time in more than 5 years. Doctors had inserted a tiny retinal implant chip into the back of her eye, which replaced damaged light sensitive cells (called photoreceptors). The device implant is connected to a tiny computer that sits underneath the skin behind her ear.

The "bionic eye" has been tested in Oxford as a treatment for the condition since 2012, and may one day be available for use on the NHS.

We made the delivery of this research study possible by funding several research nurse posts at the Oxford Eye Hospital, which offers patients the opportunity to take part in this and many other studies. The research was funded by the NIHR Health Research Invention for Innovation programme in partnership with Retina Implant AG and the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.

Find out more

Areas covered

The NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands covers the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. All six hospital trusts in our region are research active, as well as many GP surgeries, which are members of our local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). Our free support and services will give you access to the NHS infrastructure throughout the region. We deliver research across 30 clinical specialties, covering the full breadth of clinical research therapy areas.




Local research partners

In addition to hospitals and local GP surgeries, we work very closely with local universities as well as other research organisations. These include:

Academic Health Science Centre

A collaborative partnership of Oxford-based organisations covering health and social care, commissioning and service delivery, research, education and training. Tel: 01865 901000 

Oxford Academic Health Sciences Network (AHSN)

The Oxford AHSN is funded by NHS England and brings together universities, industry and the NHS to improve the health and prosperity in our region through rapid clinical innovation adoption.

NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)

Biomedical Research Centres are part of the Government’s initiative to improve the translation of basic scientific developments into clinical benefits for patients and to reinforce the position of the UK as a global leader in healthcare related research. The OxBRC is a partnership that brings together the research expertise of the University of Oxford and the clinical skills of staff of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust with the aim of supporting translational research and innovation to improve healthcare for patients.

NIHR Oxford Collaboration for Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC)

The NIHR CLAHRC Oxford carries out groundbreaking applied health research that will have a direct impact on patient health and well-being. It's a partnership between universities, healthcare commissioners and healthcare providers in the region of Oxford and the Thames Valley, hosted by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

NIHR Research Design Service South Central (RDS)

The RDS offers advice on all aspects of formulating a research proposal, including methodology, statistics, health economics and support for Patient and Public Involvement in research.

NIHR Oxford Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit (BRU)

The NIHR Oxford Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, and is a partnership between Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and NDORMS, University of Oxford. As with all NIHR Biomedical Research Units, the NIHR Oxford Musculoskeletal BRU aims to translate advances in medical research into benefits for patients within the NHS. 


See the full list of NIHR infrastructure organisations

See how the different organisations work together with our Research Innovation Pathway map