“It would be an understatement to say that many of us are currently facing the greatest challenges of our professional and personal lives.
“I want to thank you all – researchers, support staff, patients and volunteers – at the NIHR Leicester BRC, for going above and beyond to support the NHS and the local, national and international research response to COVID-19. The UK government has made it clear that swift, high quality research is needed now more than ever to take the fight to the novel coronavirus in order to save lives. As an NIHR biomedical research centre with a respiratory theme, this is what we are here for: rapid translational medicine from bench to bedside.
“We are all adapting to changes in day-to-day life, such as remote working and the use of video conferencing for consultations – changes which may become the ‘new normal’ for the NHS. Across all sites and themes we face unique challenges in response to the COVID-19 crisis and I am deeply moved by the remarkable resiliency and adaptability you have shown to provide the best research and patient care, even as circumstances quickly change.
“Many studies have had to be paused for the foreseeable future. While necessary for continued safety, it has been difficult and disappointing for those involved in the studies. I commend how staff have accomplished this while also continuing to support and inform patients. These changes have also allowed the BRC to focus efforts on the key research tasks ahead.
“Studies related to new COVID-19 research are rapidly being set up thanks to the tireless work by many of our colleagues, and many of you have moved to the respiratory team to support them in their efforts. Working with frontline clinicians at Leicester’s Hospitals, we are focused on nationally prioritised research, as set out in the NIHR Prioritisation Process and have already recruited to the RECOVERY and ISARIC trials. More studies, including clinical trials using novel therapies, will be coming on board in the next few weeks and months. These trials sit largely within the NIHR Respiratory Translational Research Collaboration, of which our centre plays a lead role.
“We are also part of the BREATHE Hub, collecting national datasets on respiratory illness. This will be mobilised to conduct detailed analyses of data on COVID-19, as collected by our NIHR colleagues at the Guys and St Thomas BRC and Kings College London. More epidemiological studies will be introduced in the next few months.
“Also many of our BRC staff are working with clinical colleagues in the NHS frontline to come up with innovative ways of supporting our patients to prevent hospital admissions. I’m really proud of all the team who are working so hard and so flexibly under extremely tough conditions to do our collective best to keep our patients safe and to drive research forward to come up with effective treatment for this horrible disease.
“We will keep you updated as the situation continues to change, but once again thank you to each and every one of you.
“Stay safe and look out for each other.”
Professor Melanie Davies
NIHR Leicester BRC Director