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How research has shaped healthcare on the 75th anniversary of the NHS

Prof Melanie Davies Clinical Director Leicester

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NHS, it is important to consider how research has shaped our current care and practice, but also what the future will hold. Professor Melanie Davies CBE, Clinical Director of the NIHR Patient Recruitment Centre: Leicester, shares her thoughts. 

“In the area that I work in, which is diabetes, I have witnessed incredible changes in clinical management largely driven by research and innovation.   

"Although insulin was discovered 2 decades before the NHS was established, since 1948 we have moved through cycles of improvement of the purity of insulin and insulin formulations, making them much more convenient for administration.  

“The first insulin pumps were developed in the 1970s, and much better basal insulin in the early 2000s, reduced the risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and made insulin administration more convenient.   

“In the last 20 years we have seen a technological revolution with continuous monitoring of glucose, delivery of insulin by continuous subcutaneous pumps, and now closed loop systems, where we are almost able to mimic the physiological delivery of insulin by the pancreas.  

“Similar amazing changes have been driven through research in Type 2 diabetes, particularly with the advent of new pharmacotherapy which is not only to improve the long term outcomes of diabetes - reducing the risk of cardiovascular events and renal disease progression - but also now smart pharmacotherapy where we have just published exciting data in the Lancet showing mean weight loss of 25%. As these medicines enter the market, they have the potential to transform weight management, and gets close to what we have seen with metabolic surgery.   

“In the future, research will continue to transform possibilities: we are likely to fully harness the potential for Artificial Intelligence, and increase our use of technology in both facilitating different models of care for patients and delivering life-saving treatments.  We will continue to see the concept of precision medicine, with its emphasis on matching patients to the most effective treatments for them based on their genetic make-up, move beyond cancer care to many other aspects of clinical management, and will increasingly harness the use of routine healthcare data to better plan and deliver efficient and innovative care at pace and scale.” 

To read more about the data published in the Lancet showing mean weight loss of 25% from trials of pharmacotherapy, visit: