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COLO-COHORT spearheads scheme to support and develop researchers

COLO-COHORT, which is funded with a £1.25 million Guts UK Parabola Foundation grant, aims to recruit 10,000 patients undergoing colonoscopy as part of ​the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP​) or due to symptoms. Participants will be asked to fill in a health questionnaire and have their height, weight and waist circumference measured. They will also receive blood tests and stool tests, depending on the indication for their colonoscopy. The results of the colonoscopy and any samples taken will be collated. Patients will receive a patient experience questionnaire or food frequency questionnaire.

COLO-COHORT, a COLO-SPEED study, is committed to supporting and developing researchers of the future and is spearheading the NIHR Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme for Gastroenterology.

The scheme, which aims to develop junior doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to become the PIs of the future, provides formal recognition of a trainee's engagement in NIHR Portfolio research studies through the conferment of Associate PI status.

COLO-COHORT is the top Gastroenterology study, having already enrolled Associate PIs at four of its sites, including Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Feedback from those participating in the scheme has been very positive.

Professor Colin Rees, Chief Investigator and Professor of Gastroenterology at Newcastle University said: “We are delighted to be involved in this important initiative supporting future researchers and research leaders. It is a great opportunity to get future researchers actively involved in studies addressing important clinical research questions. We have several associate PIs involved in our COLO-COHORT and COLO-DETECT studies.”

Fraser Brown, Associate PI for COLO-COHORT at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, has recently joined the scheme and describes his reasons for doing so:

“I signed up for the scheme to improve my experience and develop my awareness of how research projects are organised and delivered,” he says. “Evidence-based practice is important in my current role and this scheme provides an excellent opportunity to participate in research alongside my regular activities.”

Fraser also found signing up to the scheme to be very easy. “It's very simple and straightforward to sign up to the scheme,” he adds, “and I have already had contact with the local team. I am looking forward to being involved in the COLO-COHORT project!”

David Beaton, the Associate PI for COLO-COHORT at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, has been part of the scheme since late last year and describes the benefits he has experienced so far: “The main benefit I have found from the scheme is that it provides an opportunity to experience how research is really carried out,” he says. “This scheme has allowed me to gain a fuller picture of everything involved in trials within a site and everything which goes into recruitment and trial management, including attending site visits and working closely with research nurses.”

David also notes that the experience he has gained through participating in the scheme will continue to benefit him once he qualifies as a consultant. “By working alongside the PI for COLO-COHORT, I have gained a much fuller picture of everything involved in running a trial and patient recruitment,” he adds, “which will certainly aid me when I become a consultant.”

Mark Hull, National Lead for Gastroenterology in the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN), describes his delight at having COLO-COHORT as a leading study in the scheme:

"I am really pleased that COLO-COHORT is at the forefront of the NIHR Clinical Research Network Associate PI scheme,” he says. “COLO-COHORT is the perfect opportunity for Gastroenterology trainees to gain research experience and contribute to a key observational research project leading to their recognition as an Associate PI by the NIHR and RCP."

If you are interested in participating in the scheme, please visit the NIHR Associate PI Scheme web page.

To find out more about COLO-SPEED, visit: