Donors give £7million towards vital research in Nottingham

Thanks to the generosity of supporters, Nottingham Hospitals Charity has been able to contribute almost £7million towards innovative research projects at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust over the last ten years.

The funding has been made possible thanks to donors, and is enabling investment in cutting edge research that will transform care, save lives and enhance the NHS in Nottingham and the UK.

The Charity funds a variety of research and innovation projects in areas across the hospitals, including research into improving care and treatment for patients with breast cancer, a nurse-led PhD study into using volunteers to help people with dementia while in hospital and a project to improve the information parents are given when they receive the devastating news that their child has cancer.

One of the areas supported by the Charity is ground-breaking research into personalised cancer treatment, led by Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Prof Stephen Chan. The research team’s ultimate goal is to save lives by providing cutting edge new drug treatments, putting Nottingham on the map for breast cancer research and treatment, and providing the best possible care for cancer patients.

Prof Chan says: “The purpose of our research is to identify patients with a specific type of cancer (called triple negative breast cancer) and treat them according to their tumour’s response to a particular treatment, such as chemotherapy. This means we can tailor our approach to individual patients and help them to avoid unpleasant side effects wherever possible.”

He adds: “We want to select the treatment that is most likely to secure the cure for our patients. Using detailed profiling of the individual tumour in people with triple negative breast cancer, and its molecular changes during chemotherapy and other targeted therapy, we are able to fully personalise treatment to a specific patient. Our research is helping to change the way we treat people with this type of cancer, however we need to continue to build on our findings.”

A research study which aims to provide support for parents whose children have received a cancer diagnosis has also benefitted from Charity funding. Researchers plan for the study to result in the development of new interactive resources to help parents understand and deal with the heart-breaking news.

Alison Smith, who is a co-researcher on the project, knows only too well how difficult it can be to come to terms with a childhood cancer diagnosis. Alison’s daughter, Rachel, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2005, just days before her fourth birthday.

She says: “It changes your life – everything suddenly changes. It’s the most shocking thing to be told your child might not survive, and then you have to live with that for the months and years to come.”

The research study aims to survey parents about what information would have helped them to understand and deal with their child’s cancer diagnosis, and use that information to create an online, interactive resource to help parents and carers in a similar situation in the future. The researchers hope that if parents and carers feel better informed, it will allow them and their children to cope better with what they are facing.

Alison says: “As the parent of a child diagnosed with cancer it can have a huge psychological impact and it takes a massive toll on your mental wellbeing and your relationships. We want to put some support in place for those parents and carers.”

Staff Nurse in Healthcare of the Older Person, Liz Charalambous is undertaking a fully-funded PhD for three years, looking into care for people with dementia and using volunteers to help people with the condition while in hospital.

“I want to really help patients with dementia and make sure that they are supported in the best way possible.  It’s going to benefit so many people, not just at NUH but hopefully globally because it’s going to be ground breaking research that will help people with dementia. I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the Charity and their donors because I wouldn’t be able to do this without their support.”

Nottingham Hospitals Charity has also supported research and innovation in areas such as: developing interactive audio-visual materials to improve communication for hearing aid users, a study to reduce spasms and intestinal paralysis for Crohn’s disease sufferers and a project to improve the oxygen saturation for premature babies.

Barbara Cathcart, Chief Executive of Nottingham Hospitals Charity, said: “We’re pleased to be able to support a variety of research projects at NUH. Thanks to our donors we’re able to contribute significant funds to kick start research projects, which would simply not happen without our charitable funding.

“The research we fund has the ultimate aim of benefiting patients from across the East Midlands, and to invest in cutting edge research in Nottingham for the people of the East Midlands.”

To find out more information about the Charity or make a donation to research, please go to: www.nottinghamhospitalscharity.org.uk or call 0115 9627905