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Celebrating five years of innovation

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The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Nucleus celebrated five years of pioneering innovation and achievement in mental health and dementia translational research at a showcase on Monday 29 September. Leading academics and representatives from major mental health and neuroscience funders were in attendance, including Chief Medical Officer for NHS England, Professor Dame Sally C. Davies.

Launched in June 2009 and funded by NIHR, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), and a joint £3million infrastructure grant from the Maudsley and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charities, the BRC Nucleus is a data management and informatics facility which brings together expertise in informatics, biostatistics, epidemiology psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience to analyse complex biomedical data in a way not previously possible. The Facility provides underpinning infrastructure to support the experimental medicine and translational research programmes of the NIHR Maudsley BRC and Dementia Biomedical Research Unit (D-BRU) at SLaM and King’s College London.

Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “I would like to congratulate all involved in an exciting first five years of the BRC Nucleus. This birthday is special due to the importance and quality of the BRC’s work. Its unique selling point is involving service users in research, not simply as participants, but as active players in the research process. I look forward to celebrating the BRC’s tenth birthday.”

Professor Matthew Hotopf, Director of the BRC, said: “It has been a privilege directing the NIHR Maudsley BRC Nucleus, and seeing our team flourish and grow. We have made huge strides in the use of electronic health records for research. Thanks to the Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) system we are able to conduct research which directly impacts policy and patient care. This has been a team effort with patients and service users are partners in the research we do. Our success has also derived from the close links between the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London – a uniquely strong partnership.”

The event also highlighted the unique environment of the Nucleus to harness the potential of SLaM’s electronic health records for patient research allowing greater understanding of the physical and mental healthcare needs of the local populations served by SLaM. Data from the Nucleus increases service provisions and facilitates patient recruitment to clinical studies. 

Professor Sir Robert Lechler, Executive Director at King’s Health Partners, said: “Good data is at the heart of good outcomes for patients. There are three aspects of the BRC’s environment which foster its success. The first is its place within our Academic Health Sciences Centre, where mental health is at the heart of what we do, and one of our main priorities is integrating mental and physical health care. The second is the formation of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience. By bringing these three disciplines together we are creating opportunities for us to focus on bigger and bolder questions. Finally, a particular strength of the BRC lies in collecting, analysing and interpreting mental health data, an essential step in improving patient care.”

Representing the Guy’s and St Thomas’ and Maudsley charities, Peter Hewitt and Madeleine Long congratulated those involved in the work of the BRC Nucleus and said that their organisations continued to fund its work with jointly funded £3million equipment grant. The grant will enable the NIHR Maudsley BRC and D-BRU to augment the world-leading infrastructure for experimental medicine established at King’s Health Partners and enhance research in the following areas: disease mechanisms to drug discovery; informatics, robotics and computing; novel phenotyping to accelerate biomarker research and enhancement of clinical research facilities to support translational research in child and adolescent psychiatry.

Find out more about the BRC