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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Funding boost to help tackle major health challenges in the South

Published: 9 August 2013

Health researchers from Southampton have been given £9million to help them tackle some of the South's most pressing health problems.

The investment from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) will help make sure patients benefit from innovative new treatments and techniques which could revolutionise future health care. It is hoped the financial boost will also help stimulate the research economy and attract more research funding in the future.

Researchers from the University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, along with the Wessex Academic Health Science Network and other local NHS partners, have formed the NIHR CLAHRC Wessex and will start work now and spend the next five years working on their ground-breaking projects.

Researchers will focus on six themes:

  • Respiratory care
  • Aging and Dementia
  • Fundamental care in hospitals
  • Public health and primary care
  • Engagement with self-directed support
  • Complexity and end of life care

The research will aim to identify variation in outcomes, improve diagnosis, identify deficiencies in care, improve assessment and reduce antibiotic prescribing in respiratory care.

Work will also be done to improve the nutrition of patients in hospital, early detection of liver disease and reduce hospital admissions.

Professor Jessica Corner, Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Southampton and Director of the NIHR CLAHRC Wessex, comments: "This is a valuable investment which will enable us to develop and improve the care that people across our region receive. Institutions across Wessex already have a good track record of working together to improve the health of the local population. This is an exciting and important opportunity that will enable us to continue that good work to drive our health services forward.

"Some of the funding will allow us to roll out the schemes that have already proved successful in hospitals, into the community, such as the mealtime volunteer assistant programme and also enable us to ensure that people in hard to reach areas receive the same level of care as everyone else. £10m will also be contributed by the Wessex health economy which will ensure our work goes even further."

NHIR CLAHRC Wessex is one of 13 research teams across the country to receive funding. £124m in total has been distributed.

Lord Howe, Health Minister, says: "This is great news for patients - this funding could potentially help the development of ground breaking treatments which could revolutionise care. With a growing elderly population, the need for innovative and effective solutions has never been more important.

"We want the UK to lead the world in terms of health research and this announcement underlines that commitment.

"It is vital that we invest in health research, not only to create the opportunities for health research to grow - but also to help our economy thrive so we can compete in the global race."

Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor at the Department of Health, adds:

"I'm delighted we have today announced the successful schemes and I'm very much looking forward to hearing updates on how patients will benefit from this research.

"The teams are following a strong tradition of success as the National Institute for Health Research has a proven record track record of world-class health research in the NHS.

"Supporting our leading researchers is so important and these NIHR CLAHRCs will link the NHS, universities, and other relevant organisations providing care for patients in what will be ground-breaking work to improve the lives of thousands of patients across the country."

Notes for editors

1. The NIHR CLAHRC Wessex comprises: University of Southampton, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Wessex AHSN, Wessex Inclusion in Service Research and Design, NHS England and Local Area Team, nine Wessex Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health Education Wessex and nine NHS Trusts.

2. Researchers from across the country were invited to bid for the funding, which has been provided by the Department of Health, to address long term conditions and public health challenges. Their brief was that their project should make a real impact on the lives of NHS patients. This could be either through revolutionary new treatments to tackle the biggest killer diseases, or solutions to improve the lives of patients by transforming their care. Each successful team, now known as NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs), is working on a number of different projects.

3. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government's strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (

4. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship across a wide range of subjects in engineering, science, social sciences, health and humanities.

With over 23,000 students, around 5000 staff, and an annual turnover well in excess of £435 million, the University of Southampton is acknowledged as one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine. We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

The University is also home to a number of world-leading research centres including the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Web Science Trust and Doctoral training Centre, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute and is a partner of the National Oceanography Centre at the Southampton waterfront campus.

For further information contact:

Becky Attwood , Media Relations, University of Southampton, Tel: 023 8059 5457, Mob: 07545 422512, email:

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