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Delivering in Derbyshire - how our Research Support Team is making an impact

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The Derbyshire RST team has been working to deliver COVID-19 research since the start of the pandemic, and is also playing a role in the RESTART process. Kathryn and Holly from the Hub tell us more...

“Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been working to support COVID-19 research across Derbyshire,” explains Kathryn Styles, CRN East Midlands Research Support Team (RST) Hub Lead for the county. “We’ve been working with partners to deliver the ISARIC and SIREN studies to help us understand more about the disease.”

The ISARIC study is collecting data from people who contract COVID-19 to help increase understanding of COVID-19. The SIREN study is for healthcare workers, and aims to determine whether prior infection with SARS-CoV2 protects individuals from future infection with the disease. Support provided by the RST has included helping to collect data, and running clinics to collect samples which will enable researchers to understand more about how the virus acts.

“The SIREN study has had a really good response,” says Research Nurse Holly Marshall, who has been supporting the study at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust. “Everyone wants to take part, which is really positive - research is one way that people can give something back and help others during this challenging time.”

In addition to supporting urgent research into COVID-19, the RST team have also been involved in RESTART, a project to resume studies that were paused in the immediate response to the pandemic. “We’ve been working to support the SENIOR-RITA study,” says Kathryn, “which is investigating the most appropriate treatment option for patients over 75 years old who have had an NSTEMI heart attack.”

Participants are randomly allocated to one of two groups. One group will receive medication alone; the other  will have an angiogram followed by a procedure to restore blood supply to the heart if required, alongside medication.

“It’s really important that we enable people to take part in research studies again and that’s why we’re so pleased to be supporting RESTART,” Kathryn says. “Whilst we continue to support the vital research response to COVID-19, we also need to make sure that we continue research to help us learn more about other illnesses and conditions.”

Reflecting on the past few months, Holly says that being involved in research during this time has given her an opportunity to learn from others. “At times it has been stressful and demanding,” she says, “but I know the work I am doing will help us to have a better understanding of COVID-19 in the future. Working in research during the pandemic has given me a greater understanding of research processes, and it has been inspiring to see the enthusiasm of both participants and staff to get involved.”

Kathryn adds that she is proud of the contribution that the RST team has made. “We’ve provided partner organisations with practical, hands-on support in running studies,” she explains. “This has been important to enable our partners to balance the demands of running urgent public health studies alongside day-to-day activity, and we will continue to work closely with them to ensure that research in Derbyshire flourishes in the months ahead.”