New NIHR Research Support Service established at King's College London

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The National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) has awarded £6.8 million to King’s College London to establish a new Research Support Service that will focus on mental health and neuroscience.

Led by Professor Richard Emsley, the Research Support Service managed by King’s College London will form part of a national network of eight RSS hubs which will start work from 1 October 2023.

The scheme replaces the NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) and NIHR Clinical Trial Units (CTU) Support Funding, which both end on 30 September 2023.

The NIHR Research Support Service (RSS) will provide researchers, especially those applying for and in receipt of NIHR funding, with free access to support, advice and expertise. It will help them develop and deliver clinical and applied health and care research.

By operating nationally, it will allow researchers to access the most appropriate support independent of their location. It will provide seamless support for all researchers in England working across the remit of the NIHR, from pre-application through to post-application phases.

Mental Health and Neuroscience Research Support Service

Mental health and brain disorders can cause problems in all areas of life, often beginning in childhood and lasting a lifetime. Conducting research in populations with these conditions can be challenging for participants and researchers because of the wide variety of settings in which people receive care.

Director of the RSS Hub at King’s College London Professor Richard Emsley said:

It is fantastic news that the NIHR have invested in mental health specifically. Our new Mental Health and Neuroscience Research Support Service will help researchers to improve people’s lives by understanding how to prevent mental health difficulties and find better treatments. The expertise needed to do this is not widespread, so we have formed a new partnership bringing together some of the world’s leading groups to create a centre of excellence for research methodology and support in mental health research. We will offer this support to all researchers across the country, and build up the skills in other research groups by offering training and placements.

Professor Emsley is an NIHR Research Professor, Professor of Medical Statistics and Trials Methodology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) King’s College London and theme lead for Trials, Genomics and Prediction at the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre. 

The Mental Health and Neuroscience RSS will bring together statisticians, health economists, qualitative researchers from the School of Mental Health and Psychological Sciences at IoPPN, delivery and management staff from King’s Clinical Trials Unit, and clinicians in psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience and primary care. They will work in collaboration with University College London, University of Leeds, University of Oxford and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust to provide specialist support in research methodology.

The King's Clinical Trials Unit will support the activities of both the Mental Health and Neuroscience RSS led from King’s College London, and the London Methods NIHR RSS led from Imperial College London and University College London.

Significant Drivers

There are significant drivers for the new NIHR RSS. One is the vision to increase the use of innovative research designs as outlined in The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery. Another is the growth in those areas of health, public health and social care research that take place outside the NHS, and where studies do not involve clinical trials.

The service will be delivered collaboratively through eight hubs, which will individually bring together a variety of partners. Three hubs will provide specialist support in Public Health or Social Care. This will ensure that all parts of the research ecosystem are consistently well-served.

The NIHR RSS will be managed by the following host organisations with their partners:

  • University of Birmingham
  • Imperial College London
  • King's College London
  • University of Lancaster
  • University of Leicester
  • University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • University of Southampton
  • University of York

Each hub will be able to respond or direct researchers to the most appropriate methodological expertise within the NIHR RSS that supports their study requirements. The NIHR RSS will function as an integrated research design, development, collaboration and implementation system. It will support training and career opportunities for everyone working in health and care research design. It will also help develop capacity in areas of current and future need. This will ensure that research design and methodology keep up with new technologies and ways of conducting research.

Further details about the new NIHR RSS, including how to access it, will be announced before the start of the scheme.


Tags: Biomarkers & genomics - Staff News -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 17 Jul 2023, 11:04 AM

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