My View: New Queen's University clinic is boost to research
From discovery to recovery. That's how we at Queen's University's Institute of Health Sciences describe our work.
It's a long journey – beginning with finding new treatments to the end result of seeing patients being given improved health.
Crucial to the success of that journey is clinical research. That is why the opening of the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility (NICRF) is significant.
In research, partnership is all-important. NICRF, too, has been a team project.
At Queen's, we have worked with the University of Ulster, the Belfast Trust, the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Research and Development Division, and with the important financial support of the Wellcome Trust and Wolfson Foundation.
Over the past five years, Queen's has brought together clinical and scientific research teams in new, dedicated, high-quality research centres.
They work on nutrition, on vision science, cancer and on respiratory diseases.
Until recently, some patients have been travelling backwards and forwards to London on a weekly basis to take part in trials. It's exhausting and stressful.
Having this facility on the doorstep means that we're seeing more patients enrolling into clinical trials.
As a result, they're becoming partners in the process of understanding and they're helping to define how we go about treating them.
We can also provide new opportunities for doctors, nurses and other health professionals, such as physiotherapists and nutritionists, to take part in training programmes.
This is the place where any new developments within our research centres will be tried out first.
This is work which is also going on at the University of Ulster and the Belfast Trust, but now we can translate all this innovation from the bench to the bedside in an exciting process that is entirely local.
It means discovery in Northern Ireland – clinical research in Northern Ireland – and recovery opening up new horizons for our patients.