National Institute for Health and Care Research Biomedical Research Centres (NIHR BRCs) focus on early phase translational research and experimental medicine. This occupies an important place on the research pipeline, bridging the gap between early discovery science and definitive studies involving large numbers of people.
We conduct first in human studies, pilot and feasibility trials, methodology development and large-scale data analyses.
Our BRC is a partnership led by University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, with the University of Bristol being the major partner. We also work with other NHS, academic, charity and commercial organisations.
We are one of 20 BRCs across England funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). NIHR funds, enables and delivers world-leading health and social care research that improves people’s health and wellbeing and promotes economic growth.
Bridging the gap between discovery and larger studies
At the Bristol BRC, our work draws on Bristol’s expertise in developing interventions to improve the health of patients and the public, using detailed genetic and molecular data, and analysing large-scale datasets from records collected during routine NHS care. Understanding how diseases are caused, and better predicting how they will develop will help us develop and test new treatments and lead to more effective prevention.
Our researchers are developing new ways of treating patients and investigating what causes certain mental illnesses. They are looking at reducing the impact of respiratory disease on the healthcare system. They are developing new surgical devices and procedures to make sure patients are receiving the safest possible care. They are investigating how to improve health through better diet, increased physical activity and reduced bodyweight.
We have organised our research into five themes. For more information and examples of current projects, go to our research page.
Addressing health inequalities
Our research responds to patients’ needs and addresses inequalities.
The Bristol area covers urban, rural, and coastal populations from a range of heritages and backgrounds. Some of these areas are affected by significant deprivation.
In the past, research often excluded people from some backgrounds. We want to address this and will focus much of our research on groups that have traditionally been under-served. We also want to increase the number of people from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds taking part in research.
To make sure our research benefits the people who need it most, we have partnered with the Bradford Institute for Health Research. Some areas of Bradford, similarly to Bristol, are affected by significant deprivation.
Conducting research in both cities means we can really target different populations. For example, we will pilot ways to increase physical activity among South Asian girls, identify groups at risk of poor results following orthopaedic surgery and improve mental health in under-served groups.
This partnership will also mean our researchers can continue to combine and analyse data from Bristol’s Children of the 90s and the Born in Bradford birth cohort studies. These studies contain long-term research data, collected since birth about their participants.
Involving members of the public
Patient and public contributors are vital to our research. They help us develop research proposals and are involved in all our activities, from sitting on our board to advising on specific studies. This includes deciding how we run our research, as well as interpreting and reporting our results.
We are working with People in Health West of England to develop new ways of engaging with patients and the public, using best practice and increasing diversity among participants.
Investing in future researchers
We are investing in the next generation of researchers through a comprehensive training and capacity building programme. We are creating opportunities for health professionals, administrative staff and researchers at all levels. We will address under-representation and continue to increase diversity at all levels, including within our leadership team.