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Case study: Southampton study team invite students into the lab as record numbers take part in research

Southampton study team invite students into the lab as record numbers take part in research

Students from Southampton are learning about their health and visiting laboratories as part of a new research study. Led by Professor Mary Barker, at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, the Engaging Adolescents in Changing Behaviour (EACH-B) intervention is an extension of the LifeLab initiative that has been running since 2008. As part of the LifeLab educational module of work, school students get to spend one day of their academic year working in the purpose-built lab, experimenting and discovering many different aspects of their bodies and their lifestyle to see how it impacts them and how they can make changes for the better.

One of the participants in EACH-B is 13 year old Caitlin Roddy, from Wildern School Southampton. Caitlin said of her visit to the laboratory: “We got to use the equipment like blood pressure monitors - that was really cool!”

The study, which is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and sponsored by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust is just one example of research taking place across the country. New figures released today by the NIHR show that the number of people benefiting from clinical research in England reached record highs in 2018/19 - with over 870,250 participants involved in studies supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network over the last twelve months.

Commenting on this year’s figures, Dr Jonathan Sheffield OBE, Chief Executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network said: “We are delighted that this year alone, hundreds of thousands of people across the country have given their time to improve healthcare for others. Without their commitment, vital health research that changes lives simply could not happen.

“The benefits that clinical research bring to society are profound. People who take part in studies can gain access to cutting edge, innovative new treatments. While NHS trusts and health and social care patients also benefit significantly, with evidence and innovations identified through research pivotal to the development of new types of care and treatment - ultimately leading to the prevention of ill health, earlier diagnosis, faster recovery and better outcomes.”

Increasing the number of people taking part in clinical research is a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan and the NIHR has taken steps to support this by launching a new website called Be Part of Research- which helps people to easily find and take part in studies across the UK.

Baroness Blackwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care said:

“From the eradication of smallpox and the discovery of penicillin, the UK has a strong track record of public health successes which have saved countless lives. All of our successes to date would have been impossible without world-leading research and the selfless volunteers who take part in clinical trials.
“Through our Long Term Plan, we are determined to make it even easier for people to get involved in research and the NIHR’s Be Part of Research website is an important step to making this happen.”

When asked what she would tell others who are approached to be a part of research, Caitlin explained: “I would say you should definitely do it because it is a lot of fun and you can help get a better understanding of your own health and use your data to help other people who might need it.”

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