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6th November 2014, 3:21pm
Advancing healthcare research from the cell to the community
Laboratory research A research institute connecting health-related studies spanning laboratory-based science to frontline medical interventions is working to address healthcare challenges affecting patients and communities locally, nationally and internationally.

The Lincoln Institute for Health, an inter-disciplinary group of researchers based at the University of Lincoln, UK, encompasses research ‘from the cell to the community’; at the smallest scale identifying new ways to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria, and at the broadest testing new emergency treatments for stroke patients across England.

The Institute was formally launched at the University of Lincoln’s ‘Celebrating Health’ reception, held at the House of Lords (October 2014). Guests included representatives from government, research councils, the charity and voluntary sector, NHS trusts and local authorities, the pharmaceutical industry and other healthcare organisations.

The event coincided with the publication of a five-year 'Forward View' for the NHS which highlighted pressures facing the health service from increased demand, an ageing population and budgetary constraints. The report by Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, emphasised the importance of technological and medical innovation, healthcare quality improvement and organisational efficiency.

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln, said: "The Institute for Health provides the critical mass for our research teams and their collaborators to drive forward work which can make a profound difference to people’s lives, as individuals and communities.  With a clear over-arching vision, built around engagement with partners across the health and social care sectors, we will develop existing strengths and explore new avenues for truly inter-disciplinary research.”

The Lincoln Institute for Health consists of eight established research centres at the University of Lincoln. These include the Drug Design and Delivery research group, based in the state-of-the-art Joseph Banks Laboratories, which is driving advances in the field of nanobiotechnology, including a Royal Society funded study by Dr Ishwar Singh and Dr Driton Vllasaliu to develop innovative new methods to target drugs at cancer cells.

The Laboratory of Vision Engineering is a specialist centre for computer vision research, led by Professor Nigel Allinson MBE. He heads the multi-national PRaVDA consortium to develop world-first medical imaging technology for use in proton beam therapy for cancer patients, a project funded by the Wellcome Trust.

The Community & Health Research Unit (CAHRU), directed by Professor Niroshan Siriwardena, has transformed the way stroke and heart attack patients are treated by ambulance clinicians, measurably improving consistency of standards in emergency care across England through a programme funded by the Health Foundation.

Other studies include medical imaging innovations by Dr Xuijong Ye, enabling CT scans to detect bowel cancer earlier; a project by Professor Timothy Hodgson and Dr Jonathan Waddington to create a unique computer game which could help visually-impaired children lead independent lives; and studies into the effect of telecare technologies in supporting older people living with multiple chronic conditions, led by Professor Siriwardena and his team.

The Institute is working closely with health service partners regionally, nationally and internationally to identify challenges, construct and deliver studies, and implement findings. Key partners include East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation NHS Trust.

Professor Siriwardena, Interim Chair of the Lincoln Institute for Health, said: “Our aim is to provide a better understanding of the healthcare needs of communities, working closely with patients, professionals and the public. This approach will help us to identify solutions that are not only academically rigorous but also relevant to real healthcare challenges.”

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