NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre. Progress on implementing our revised strategic plan

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1 NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre Progress on implementing our revised strategic plan

2 NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre At the NIHR University College London Hospitals BRC we have been making brisk progress in our relentless focus on world-class activity of greatest therapeutic or diagnostic potential. As we enter our new phase we have expanded this focus to drive forward strong and enduring partnerships with the life-sciences industry, both in the UK and internationally. As we push through home grown scientific discoveries into patient care, we are partnering small medium enterprises (SMEs) and major industry to share expertise, infrastructure and resources. We are going to be flexible and creative in the ways we help create health and wealth. We are signing major new strategic partnerships with global pharmaceutical companies. A new UCL partnership with Eisai Pharmaceuticals is now underway to develop novel therapeutics for neurological disorders. We are working with GlaxoSmithKline to facilitate drug development for fibrosis. We have also signalled our intent to occupy space at the GSK supported Bioscience Catalyst in Stevenage to fast track home grown drug development. Other new collaborations include work with BioMarin Pharmaceuticals on gene therapy for haemophilia. Scientific focus We have condensed activities from our previous theme structure into four programmes Cancer, Neuroscience, Cardiometabolic Science, and Infection, Immunity and Inflammation. This structure is reflected in the UCL domain and UCLH clinical board structures, promoting easier science pull through and maximising our leverage of the expertise, facilities and patient populations of our partner hospitals. We are, for example, leveraging the clinical, research and teaching expertise the partnership offers in rare diseases. A new registry of rare diseases has been established to focus experimental medicine activities and ensure we can make a leading contribution to national rare disease initiatives. UCL s first rare diseases conference took place in February Professor Bryan Williams appointment to the new BRC Director post has strengthened our leadership. Since August the four programmes have been led by substantive programme directors (PDs). The PD role has required significant commitment (four consultant PAs) from four outstanding international leaders in experimental medicine: David Linch; Nick Wood; Bryan Williams; Deenan Pillay. All four are or have been NIHR investigators. Our new resource allocation models explicitly target the translational potential of activities in nanotechnology, gene therapy, cell therapy/ regenerative medicine, bioengineering and computer science. There are signs that the increased focus on experimental medicine is impacting on the UCLH research portfolio. Between 2011 and 2012 there was a 16 per cent increase in the number of new early Phase clinical trials approved at UCLH. Over the same period we have seen a 15 per cent increase in the number of commercial contract clinical trials approved. We have seen an increase in investigator-led clinical trials involving industry partnerships reflecting changing attitudes to industry partnership and UCL s impressive track record in translational funding streams. Examples include a partnership with US-based BioMarin in gene therapy for haemophilia A and projects supported by the MRC- AstraZeneca translational research partnership in mechanisms of disease. Progress in our BRC Programmes over the last 12 months includes: Drug discovery alliance with Eisai Pharmaceuticals in which researchers from both organisations will work together to investigate radical new ways of treating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer s, Parkinson s and other related disorders. The aim is to identify and validate novel drug targets, and develop new therapeutics and evaluate them in proofof-concept clinical trials. A joint Therapeutic Innovation Group of UCL and Eisai scientists will be formed to coordinate the discovery and 2

3 Progress on implementing our revised strategic plan assessment of emerging therapeutic targets in neurological diseases. Research is expected to be carried out at UCL s new Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre, while Eisai will provide drug discovery and development resource and know-how, assay development capabilities and medicinal chemistry expertise. If successful, UCL will also receive milestone and royalty payments on therapies brought to market. 500k investment in the MRC Neuromuscular Centre at Queen Square, integrating our BRC activities with Great Ormond Street and Newcastle BRC activities. 900k investment in the Wolfson Drug Discovery Unit with a focus on new interventions for amyloid depletion industry partnership with Cellectis Therapeutics in gene and cell therapy, made possible by BRC investment in advanced therapies development programme at UCL increased capacity in early phase clinical trials in inflammatory arthritis with the launch of the BRC-supported Arthritis Research UK Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology Research, including a newly appointed Clinical Senior Lecturer in adolescent rheumatology initiation of high throughput screening studies of novel agents including cell death in osteosarcomas and head and neck cancer further developments in the prognostic impact of the mutational spectrum in acute leukaemia, including new insights into the development of drug resistance in solid tumours joint UCL-Yale MedTech conference in London to leverage expertise and new product development across the two sites. Resource model Review of existing BRC funding commitments A review in 2012 of existing BRC funding commitments has enabled us to make significant progress in using a new resource model that incentivises world-class activity and rewards leverage: Review of BRC funded staff the activity of all BRC-funded staff (Consultant PAs and non-consultant WTEs) has been reviewed and research activity falling outside of the new BRC strategy has been moved onto alternative appropriate funding streams typically Research Capability Funding (RCF). The newly refocused budgets for Consultant level staff are maximising opportunities for engagement of NHS clinical researchers with UCL scientists. NHS Support Costs We have simplified the methodology used to allocate funding for NHS Support Costs in line with the DH AcoRD principles. Overheads a detailed review of BRC overheads has resulted in a clearer itemisation of the BRC s indirect costs. The net effect of our financial review has been to identify a core budget uplift from April 2013 of approximately 4.5m a year. New strategic priorities for spend Our programmes have started to fund new initiatives in line with the key principle that BRC funds must, wherever possible, be used to leverage blue chip research or industrial income. We have done this, for example, by: priming major grant applications (such as the MRC Neuromuscular Centre and the ARUK Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology); providing matched funding for initiatives and cross disciplinary collaborations (such as the country s first PET/MRI facility); and allocating funds for the innovation pathway of high impact discoveries showing promise in therapeutics, diagnostics or MedTech. 3

4 NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre Devolved budgets to programmes As well as refocused staff budgets each programme was allocated an initial 2.5m for 2012/13 to deploy within their programmes. By reviewing funding commitments, we have been able to make significant uplifts to the programme budgets from April 2013, according to their size and impact. Core infrastructure budgets and high impact initiatives 2.5m has been allocated to the BRC Education and Training Programme to help attract and train the best of the next generation of clinical scientists in experimental medicine. We have allocated funding to support core experimental medicine infrastructure, including the BRC leadership and operations teams, the Joint Research Office, the NIHR BioResource and the PET/MRI. We have carried out an internal review of our NIHR Clinical Research Facility to ensure it is optimally structured and supported. A BRC strategic budget of approximately 10m has been established to support high impact, cross thematic, experimental medicine initiatives that will deliver a step change in our experimental medicine capability. These initiatives will, by their very nature, signal the intent of the new BRC to innovate at scale. A High Impact Initiatives call went out in February Several proposals have already been identified for potential support, including a partnership with UCL Enterprise, aligned with the recent Higher Education Funding Council for England Catalyst bid. Leveraging charitable support In the last year the BRC has consolidated its link with the UCLH Charity. All new research legacies will be made available to the BRC for deployment by the BRC Board. The BRC deploys charitable funds to support an experimental medicine Fast Track research grant call. The most recent call (November 2012) generated an unprecedented level of interest a six-fold increase in applications, including many new groupings of NHS clinical researchers and UCL scientists. Integrating NIHR resources We have continued to integrate NIHR infrastructure at UCLH and UCL. We have appointed a new Clinical Director Nursing to the CRF leadership team. The CRF is the home for our NIHR Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre activities. All UCLH NIHR Clinical Research Network funding allocation is channelled through a new Research Support Hub structure. NIHR Research Capability Funding (RCF) continues to be an extremely constructive funding stream for us. As well as supporting initiatives in later phase research such as health services research and clinical trials, RCF has been used to fund Consultant PAs not closely aligned with the BRC experimental medicine focus. The BRC uses RCF to fund specialist regulatory project managers in gene and cell therapy clinical trials to help increase in the number of advanced therapy trials. Governance The new BRC Executive Board came into effect from April Chaired by the BRC Director, the Executive Board membership consists of the BRC s four programme directors and Education & Training Director, Director of R&D (UCLH), NIHR Dementia BRU Director, BRC Chief Operating Officer and BRC Head of Finance. The Executive Board meets monthly to provide the key executive function for the BRC, including assisting the Scientific Director in resource allocation decisions. The BRC Strategic Board, chaired by the UCLH Corporate Medical Director on behalf of the CEO, oversees delivery and development of the BRC strategy. Its membership consists of BRC Scientific Director, UCL Vice Provost (Health), Managing Director UCL Partners, external industry representation, BRC Chief Operating Officer and BRC Head of Finance. The strategic board is also seeking to add two additional industry representatives and includes a lay member. The strategic board reports to the UCLH Board of Directors. 4

5 Progress on implementing our revised strategic plan The four BRC programmes each have boards that support the Programme Director and provide leadership and direction for the experimental medicine agenda. The programme boards include representation from the UCLH and UCL leadership, as well as lay membership. Each programme is supported by a Programme Operations Manager with responsibility for coordinating activities, Trust-UCL liaison, monthly metrics reports, resources management and industrial liaison. Enterprise, innovation and industrial partnership Translating enterprise and innovation into creating health and wealth is a major and explicit strategic objective for the BRC. Our aim is to be national leaders in this area. We already have a growing portfolio of industry interactions and partnerships reflecting the impact of this new BRC strategy. UCL is committed to our partnership with GlaxoSmithKline in the Bioscience Catalyst in Stevenage. We are working closely with Cambridge University on this and our recent bid to the Higher Education Funding Council for England Catalyst Fund is a signal of our intent in this regard. We have identified three initial experimental medicine projects suitable for the new partnership. The new drug discovery alliance between UCL and Eisai is an example of our focus on discovery and assessment of new therapeutic targets for neurological diseases, and we are currently considering options for leveraging experimental medicine opportunities from it. The BRC Director is now a member of the UCL Enterprise Steering Committee which plays a key role in developing the UCL enterprise agenda and provides a link across large-scale enterprise initiatives. The BRC Strategic Board includes representation from industry. We have drawn up plans for aligning the BRC s industry-focused initiatives under a new BRC Enterprise Partnerships concept so we can better promote what the BRC has to offer industry, leverage the expertise and resources from across UCL and UCLH, clarify the route for industry partners to engage with UCL/ UCLH and bring the culture change needed to build the industry portfolio. The BRC management team works closely with the UCL Translational Research Office (TRO) which was set up with pump priming support from the BRC. The TRO leads on projects aimed at promoting industry partnership in experimental medicine through project managing new research projects and negotiating new collaborations. The BRC has committed funding of 900k to the Wolfson Drug Discovery Unit which focuses on drug discovery in amyloidosis and other diseases depleting amyloid may have significant impact, such as dementia. In 2012 we established a new Innovation Office for UCLH which is providing support for staff with new inventions. The Innovation Office is linked closely with UCL Business. The BRC s Proof of Concept (POC) fund continues to be administered by UCLB. The POC fund, together with UCL Enterprise, is supporting the novel pilot project Tissue Access for Patient Benefit, which is attracting considerable industry interest. Education UCL has established an integrated Academic Careers Office (ACO), led by the BRC Director of Education and Training and supported by the BRC. The ACO supports and helps develop academic and clinical academic careers in the School of Life and Medical Sciences (SLMS), the BRC and Dementia BRU. Five projects have been initiated by the ACO in the last year: Clinical Research Training Fellowships The BRC and the Francis Crick Institute have created a framework to recruit interdisciplinary Clinical Research Training Fellows (CRTFs). The BRC is jointly funding two CRTFs in 2013, and has secured funding support for a further two CRTFs from the other two UCL BRCs. This initiative aims to recruit the best trainee doctors to our three-year PhD programme, with BRC funding used to support experimental medicine. If this pilot is successful, we will propose extending the framework to all UK BRCs. 5

6 NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre MiniMD two-week intensive course for non-clinical scientists The course offers basic scientists a direct insight into translational research and clinical medicine through out-patient clinics, ward rounds and operating theatre lists. The aim is to increase the number of scientists pursuing experimental medical questions and to encourage early-career biomedical scientists in a translational direction. The first session of MiniMD will run in Experimental Medicine Conference Series (EMCS) The aim of these one-day conferences is to develop interactions between the BRC programmes and between the programmes and external audiences. The EMCS will start in 2013 and will be delivered over the next five years. Gender equality The ACO is coordinating the BRC s activities in relation to the Athena SWAN charter, working closely with UCL. Self-assessment teams have been established across SLMS and a UCL Women network had its first meeting in January Athena SWAN is referenced on the new BRC website and the BRC lead has been appointed to UCL s 50:50 gender equality group that develops policy on equality and diversity across all of UCL. The BRC has also recently committed to supporting the highly successful UCL MBPhD Studentship Programme The Programme has an exemplary 20-year track record of developing academically-minded medical students who have gone on to successfully combine research with clinical medicine. Continued BRC support will secure re-orientation of this programme towards building capacity in experimental medicine. Delivering through wider engagement Engagement with national priority initiatives We are actively engaged in the NIHR BioResource. UCL hosts all the National BioResource meetings. We have appointed a BRC BioResource Lead (Nick Wood) who is also the national lead for Neuroscience, and we have appointed a senior BioResource Coordinator to establish essential infrastructure and operations across the BRC. The local BioResource at UCL will act as the foundation for studies of genotype to phenotype relationships. We see the development of these large phenotyped and genotyped populations as an essential capacity for experimental medicine across the UK. The UCL BioResource will make a significant contribution to the national endeavour by providing access to samples and data from 10,000 of the unique population of volunteers and patients consenting for recall to studies by genotype and phenotype through the UCL Partner Hospitals. This will provide a powerful resource for studying disease mechanisms and the benefits and limitations of emerging therapies. Samples will be collected, processed and stored at UCL-RFH Biobank and data will be curated and stored at UCL. The BRC has also explored other key opportunities for the BioResource, for example, mobilising the rare disease cohorts at the GOSH NIHR BRC and in Royal Free Immunology. Data Integration and Informatics Programmes We have been actively engaged in discussions around the CMO s Grand Challenge since the project s inception. A project team has been established to ensure we have the flexibility and the ability to act quickly as the national project develops. The Centre for Health Academic Partnership in Translational E-health Research (CHAPTER) is a consortium led from UCL bringing together UCL, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Queen Mary, University of London, the Health Protection Agency, UCL Partners, and MRC Clinical Trials Unit. CHAPTER, which is funded by a consortium of funding bodies including MRC and NIHR, will act as an 6

7 Progress on implementing our revised strategic plan international centre of excellence in innovative health informatics research that will establish translational research programmes, build capacity, develop methodologies and promote engagement between public, patients, clinicians and researchers. The BRC has recognised the importance of local harmonisation of ongoing activities around bioresourcing, electronic patient data integration, bioinformatics and funding streams, in order to ensure effective project management and strategic investment. MRC/NIHR Phenome Centre We have had one successful expression of interest in response to the Phenome Centre s first call, utilising our unique dataset in healthy humans exposed to environmental hypobaric hypoxia. UCL Partners and harmonisation across London As part of our role in translating fundamental science into translational research we have significantly bolstered our work with the UCL Partners Academic Health Science Centre. We are represented on the UCLP Board, and our Scientific Director contributed to the research strategy and bid prospectus for the UCLP Academic Health Science Network proposal and was part of the UCLP interview panel for this bid. Likewise, the UCLP Managing Director sits on the BRC Strategic Board. This is facilitating a London-wide focus and role for the BRC. We are working with the NIHR BRCs at GOSH and Moorfields and the NIHR BRUs in dementia (UCL) and cardiovascular disease (Barts Health) on harmonising research efforts and resources and fostering even greater collaboration and common approaches to BRC performance management. Our Joint Research Office has been a major contributor to the pilot project on harmonisation of clinical trials approvals which is delivering encouraging outcomes in terms of approvals timelines and industry engagement. The BRC Faculty has also been reinvigorated with a clearer definition of the categories of Faculty membership Senior Faculty, Faculty and Associate Faculty. The BRC Faculty includes NHS clinical researchers and UCL scientists from the medical sciences and health related faculties including engineering and physics. Engaging patients and public The appointment of a Communications and PPI Manager has enabled the BRC to offer more support to researchers in preparing their research for the wider media. We have delivered a four-fold increase in the number of research stories published on our BRC website over the last 12 months. A greater focus on communications has also enabled the BRC to develop a culture of engagement with the NIHR Communications Unit. Further examples of recent progress made in our communications and PPI activities include training sessions for researchers in PPI and a PPI facilitation service; introductory training for lay people carried out in partnership with Macmillan Cancer and the NIHR BRCs at GOSH and Moorfields; and a BRC Summer School funding lab placements for 20 gifted A level students. We led a novel photograph exhibition Gathering Light which highlighted the relationship between clinical researchers and patients. The exhibition is now touring other centres, nationally. Our PPI initiatives have been featured by the NIHR as case studies, notably our partnership working with Ataxia Research and our PPI brochure. We have also secured 20k from the Wellcome Trust for the development of patient groups and a bursary funding pot. Engaging the UCLH/UCL community A launch event for the new experimental medicine focussed BRC was held at the Wellcome Trust on 17 December 2012 and attended by over 130 staff. The event also marked the launch of our new BRC website (www.uclhospitals.brc.nihr.ac.uk) and the first edition of a new BRC e-newsletter that is circulated to over 1,000 staff. 7

8 The National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre is a partnership between University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and UCL (University College London) and is part of the National Institute for Health Research. 1st Floor, Maple House 149 Tottenham Court Road London W1T 7NF Telephone:

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