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State-of-the-art van to take research into Greater Manchester communities

Participation in research studies will become easier than ever for residents across Greater Manchester thanks to a new state-of-the-art Research Van. 

The one-stop mobile facility, only the second of its kind in the UK, will be available to research teams from 2022. 

The Research Van has been designed to deliver care and widen opportunities to be part of research in communities across Greater Manchester, East Cheshire and East Lancashire. It will visit easy-to-reach locations such as community centres and supermarket car parks.

The purpose-built vehicle has been initially funded with a £200,000 grant from the UK government Vaccine Task Force following a successful bid from NIHR Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester (CRN). It will be operationally managed by the NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility (CRF), with further support from the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, all of which are hosted by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT).

Internally, the Research Van includes a pharmacy and clinical area containing all equipment necessary to run vaccine programmes, clinical trials and bespoke clinical projects out in the community, along with a patient waiting area and disabled toilet facilities.  

Its pharmacy has capacity to dispense Investigational Medicinal Products (IMPs), including vaccines and gene therapies, stored at a -80°C, -20°C, 2-8°C and room temperature.

Medicines storage areas are safe, secure, and lockable, and are all temperature monitored, with space to accommodate a bio-safety cabinet. 

The built-in ward is a fully functional outpatient clinic and includes an electrically adjustable phlebotomy couch for taking bloods and the ability to spin and store patient samples. 

Professor Andy Ustianowski, Clinical Lead for the Research Van at MFT and Deputy Clinical Director of NIHR CRN Greater Manchester, said: “We are delighted to have secured funding for this new resource which is a key part of our strategy to increase opportunities for people in all parts of our area to be part of clinical research studies. 

“The Research Van is designed to make research more accessible and inclusive for residents across Greater Manchester, removing the need for people to reach a hospital or other NHS sites and instead take the studies to easy-to-reach places in their communities.

“The mobile unit will also optimise our resources in the region and provide us with a ‘one-stop’ facility that can move flexibly between different sites in Greater Manchester.”

Express an interest in utilising the Research Van

For more information on the Research Van and how it can help you deliver your next research study please contact:


Main image caption (left to right): Sasi Neelamekam, Quality Lead, NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility; Sarah Fallon, Chief Operating Officer, NIHR Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester; Beatriz Duran Jimenez, Consultant Pharmacist - Clinical Trials, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust; Jan Maiden - Facilities Manager - Research and Innovation, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust; Lebina Pinto, Matron, NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility.