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New global surgical research unit launched

04 Aug 2017

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has awarded £7 million to the universities of Birmingham, Edinburgh and Warwick to establish a joint research unit focused on developing global surgical research.

Working in partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), the NIHR Global Health Research Unit will establish sustainable international research hubs across a range of low and middle income countries (LMICs) over the next four years. Initially, up to five international hubs will be set up across southern, central and western Africa, central and south America, and south Asia.

The newly-established NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery will be based at the University of Birmingham. It will be co-directed by Professor Dion Morton, a leading colorectal surgeon from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, and Professor Peter Brocklehurst, Director of the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit.

The hub leads will be LMIC surgeons, with each hub supported by UK researchers. These researchers will develop and train regional surgical networks that are able to deliver clinical research relevant to their local populations.

The first clinical trial to be run by the NIHR Global Health Research Unit, though the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit, will test interventions that aim to reduce wound infections following abdominal surgery. This is expected to begin in October 2017 and will take place across multiple international locations.

Professor Dion Morton, Director of Clinical Research at the RCS said:

“Surgical care is one of the major unmet needs in global health care today. The NIHR Global Health Research Unit will work in partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons to develop relationships with local hospital networks, governmental ministries of health, industry and non-governmental organisations in a range of low and middle income countries (LMIC), to set up pathways to rapidly translate research findings in to evidence-based patient care.”

Professor Derek Alderson, President of the RCS, will chair the External Advisory Board overseeing global strategy for the Unit.

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