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World Class Research & Development

The Royal Devon and Exeter Pathology department has significant Research and Development expertise and an international reputation as a centre of excellence for translational research. There are strong collaborative working relationships with the new University of Exeter Medical School (previously the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry)  the Exeter NIHR Clinical Research Facility and the local research infrastructure (Peninsula CLRN, RDE R&D, PenCLARC, PenTAG, AHRN). The new RILD (Research, Innovation, Learning and Development) building on the Royal Devon & Exeter Wonford site provides a key centre to coordinate integration of these activities, including new state of the art laboratories. We make a significant contribution to world class research and development which improves the quality, experience and effectiveness of healthcare. The RD&E has a track record for piloting new ways of working and patient care for the Department of Health and the National Institute for Innovation, before they are rolled out across the NHS.

International Central laboratory coordination

The department of Blood Sciences has many years experience of coordinating and delivering central laboratory function for large multi-centre project. The department recently attracted a central analytical laboratory role and key partner for the multinational EU project DIRECT (“DIabetesREsearCh for patient straTification”), a consortium funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). DIRECT is a 45 million Euro project focusing on the stratification of patients with diabetes.  As the central laboratory serving the DIRECT study across 12 countries, we designed the sample handling process, protocols for sample collection, sample shipping and coordinating central analysis. Training of the partner sites in complex sample handling procedures has been achieved by developing innovative video SOPs  (www.direct-diabetes.org)

Current ongoing multi-centre central laboratory roles:

  • PANTS: Personalised Anti-TNF Therapy in Crohn’s disease (PANTS). Investigation of the clinical, serological and genetic factors that determine primary non-response, loss of response and adverse drug reactions to anti-TNF drugs in patients with active luminal Crohn’s disease (source)
  • MASTERMIND. MRC funded project, understanding individual variation in treatment response in Type 2 Diabetes (source)

Translational Research Innovations

Work with the NIHR Peninsula Clinical Research Facility led to the development of UCPCR (Urinary C-peptide) testing. This allows the measurement of a patient’s endogenous insulin production from a urine sample that can be taken in their home and sent by post to the laboratory. The test was developed in-house, and the stability/collection/storage parameters determined. It was then validated in patients with type 1, type 2 diabetes and a non-diabetic population before demonstrating its utility to differentiate type 1 diabetes in the context of identifying those patients who may benefit from genetic testing.  This test is now being used by 90 different hospitals across the UK. Dr Tim McDonald (Principal Biochemist in blood sciences) won the 2012 CSO Young Healthcare Scientist Award in recognition of this work.

World Class Molecular Genetic Research

The department of  molecular genetics provides a integrated core facility for diagnostic testing (NHS and referrals from abroad) and R&D. It is led by a University of Exeter employed Professor of Human Molecular Genetics who is aWellcome Trust Senior Investigator (£2.9M grant awarded 2012) and contributes to collaborative research projects with clinicians from Neurology, Endocrinology, Paediatrics, Gastroenterology, Respiratory, Oncology and Clinical Genetics disciplines. The laboratory is a key member of the multidisciplinary Exeter-based diabetes of genetics group which has identified novel genetic forms of diabetes and transformed the lives of patients throughout the world who have been able to stop insulin injections and control their diabetes with tablets. The department has  >500 publications and honours include Queen’s Anniversary Prize 2006, Hospital Doctors Team award 2005, CSO Healthcare Scientist 2006, University of Exeter International Impact award 2011 and ISPAD Innovation prize 2012.

For enquiries regarding research services please contact Dr Timothy McDonald on timothy.mcdonald@nhs.net

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