£4.5M awarded to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust for cutting-edge research equipment and technology

EEG brain scan shown in foreground, man in background blurred out

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has awarded more than £4.5 million to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust to pay for new research equipment and technology.

This will be used to improve the accessibility of the Trust’s research so more patients and service users have the opportunity to take part in research. It will include a new sleep laboratory, equipment for the Informatics theme of the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre and resources for the new Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People.

New sleep laboratory at the NIHR King’s Clinical Research Facility (CRF)

This investment will allow the creation of a sleep laboratory to study the impact of disturbed sleep on brain functioning and mental health. This will be based in the NIHR King’s Clinical Research Facility and the funding will refurbish existing space for private rooms and purchase new equipment designed for sleep studies. When not used for sleep research, these new facilities will be available as generic clinical space for experimental medicine, thus increasing our capacity for studies across the CRF’s portfolio.

The sleep laboratory will be a leader in this field, building on existing strengths in the development of both silent and motion insensitive MRI, relationships with industry and the UK’s largest clinical sleep service that spans across King’s Health Partners

Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People

The equipment and facilities of the Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People will revolutionize the type and scope of research undertaken, enhancing our understanding of the relationship between brain-based mechanisms, clinical disorders, and social context.

This funding will pay for an MRI compatible EEG system for imaging infants to be used in perinatal services and additional eye tracking equipment that is specifically helpful for younger children who find it difficult to sit still during data capture.

The equipment will enable researchers to explore the interplay between brain and social/environmental risk factors such as trauma exposure, poverty, parental mental illness with an aim to investigate potential prevention targets.

NIHR Maudsley BRC Informatics

The funding will provide dedicated BRC storage and high-performance computing facilities to enable the informatics team to process large datasets. This hardware will enhance research capacity and capability, supporting the development of large language models and increasing the speed of testing of deep learning models. It will also support the creation of a  Mobile Health and Speech Lab which  include a collection of devices and speech equipment to ensure a standardised process for testing, benchmarking, piloting, and evaluating existing and emerging devices for data collection.

Professor Richard Dobson, Informatics theme lead, said: 

"With our newly integrated BRC storage and GPU-boosted high-performance compute nodes, we're positioned to exploit cutting-edge advances in fields such as large language models. This empowers us to unlock unprecedented insights for the NHS, leading to improvements in patient care. Moreover, the establishment of our Mobile Health and Speech Standardisation and Benchmarking Lab paves the way for capitalizing on the surge of patient-generated data through mobile devices and voice technologies. This will enable a seamless transition towards remote care, transforming our capacity to provide healthcare services. "

David Bradley, Chief Executive Officer South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust said: 

“We are delighted that the NIHR has chosen to award £4.5m to South London and Maudsley. It will fund equipment for our new Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People to enable our academics and clinicians to continue their world-leading research into the prevention and treatment of mental illness.”

Professor Matthew Hotopf, CBE FRCPsych FMedSci, Director of the NIHR Maudsley BRC, and Vice Dean (Research), Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, said:

This investment will allow us to purchase equipment, technology and hardware, across the NIHR Maudsley BRC, NIHR King’s CRF and for the Pears Maudsley Centre. Not only will this enhance our research capacity and capability, it will also improve the experience of participants in research, particularly children and people with mental health conditions, because our facilities have been designed with their needs in mind.  We are delighted that our application was considered excellent by the NIHR committee.”

£96 million to 93 NHS organisations across England

The NIHR funding is part of a wider  £96 million to 93 NHS organisations across England, which are all part of the NIHR’s infrastructure. This includes Biomedical Research Centres and Clinical Research Facilities, as well as NIHR’s Clinical Research Network.

This funding will boost research and innovation across the NHS new equipment and technology will help find new ways to prevent and treat diseases. The funding will be used for a range of innovative equipment, including imaging devices, mobile research vehicles, ultrasound equipment, and specialist fridges and freezers that are essential for storing samples used in research.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:

“From Devon to Liverpool, we're giving NHS organisations over £96 million to bolster vital health and care research. Scientists and medical experts will be able to purchase cutting-edge equipment, like mobile CT scanners, imaging devices and ultrasound equipment to help their groundbreaking work in the prevention, treatment and management of disease. The NHS and its staff have now served us for nearly 75 years and as we celebrate that achievement we want to make sure the health service is leading the way. This investment will also help the NHS continue to cut waiting lists – one of the government’s top five priorities.”

Participation in health and care research

It has been another successful year for participation in health and care research, with almost one million participants across England taking part in NIHR research in 2022/23.

Over 100 people in England were recruited every hour to take part - that’s enough people to fill Wembley Stadium over 10 and a half times. NB The data relates to NIHR’s Clinical Research Network (CRN) portfolio studies.

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR said:

“The best health and care research requires a number of important elements to come together: world-class researchers, cutting-edge facilities and the generous participation of the public. As we celebrate 75 years of our amazing NHS, this announcement reminds us that all three elements are firmly in place in this country, and that the UK as a whole remains one of the best places in the world to undertake clinical trials. We are so grateful for the continuing support of the many people who take part in research to help shape our future health and care. Thank you to everyone who has done so this year, and I hope even more people will be part of research in the future.” 

Tags: South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust - NIHR Wellcome King's Clinical Research Facility - Informatics -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 3 Jul 2023, 00:00 AM

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