Delighted to see today’s announcement by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) of the new NIHR BioResource.
The importance of the new BioResource (the main website for the BioResource is here) is underlined by the fact that not one Minister but both the Secretary of State for Health, Minister for Health plus the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, are quoted in the announcement. Lesser events are lucky to get one of these on paper. More than three (or, come to think of it, none at all) and it usually means we are talking about a crisis.
The NIHR BioResource is a shared enterprise that spans a number of our world-class Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) facilities in Cambridge, London (multiple sites), Oxford, Newcastle and Leicester.
But, at its heart, is a population of 75,000 volunteers – patients, family members and others – who wish to help further clinical research across a range of conditions. As NIHR says in its announcement:
‘[NIHR BioResource] provides a national recallable resource of volunteers of patients, their families and from general population who wish to participate in clinical research across a wide range of studies. Volunteers provide clinical information and samples that allow them to be recalled by their genotype and phenotype (their physical characteristics) for experimental medicine studies and early phase trials.’
This time last year I was fortunate to visit the NIHR Cambridge BioResource Centre at Addenbrookes Hospital. I came away being very impressed by the passion and commitment to public involvement shown by its leadership team including Dr John Bradley, the Director of the Cambridge BRC.
It was clear that they had done much to involve patients and the public in what they do but wanted to get better at it. I seem to recall that much of my meeting with them was about how to involve the public more in the running of the BioResource, promoting it to the local population, and using what they learned to benefit other NIHR facilities in Cambridge as well as much wider. The opportunity (and challenge!) for the future will be how to make public involvement relevant and effective across all the BioResource sites.
If you want to volunteer to take part in NIHR BioResource these web pages will tell you more.