Open day celebrates clinical research

27 May 2015

Staff and patients were given insight into the hundreds of ground-breaking clinical trials taking place at the Royal Free London (RFL) at a recent research and development open day.

On Wednesday 20 May a host of world class clinicians and scientists from across the trust talked about their research and how it is used to treat patients taking part in clinical trials.

Professor Hans Stauss, head of clinical immunology at the Institute of Immunity and Transplantation, a partnership between the RFL and University College London, talked about his research into whether the immune system could be ’reset’ in order to prevent renal and liver transplant rejection. His institute colleague Dr Emma Morris, reader and consultant haematologist, told how gene therapy trials could transform the way we treat tumours.

Dr David Chao, medical oncologist, introduced a world-first trial of a new immunotherapy treatment called pembrolizumab which is set to revolutionise melanoma care and has the potential to be used in many other cancer types.

Dr Chao was joined by his patient Warwick Steele, who began treatment with the experimental drug in 2013 after being given just months to live. Warwick spoke about his experience of taking part in clinical trials.

He joked that while the team at the Royal Free Hospital (RFH) had become like a second family, “they always want to seem to stick needles in me!”

Manuel Pinto, hepatology research nurse, explained how his role saw him support patients throughout the clinical trials process.

He said: “Research nurses maintain long-term relationships with patients and advocate for them. It might be daunting initially but we are working for the greater good.”

The open day also saw Farhan Naim, deputy director of research and development, announce the launch of the RFL’s new trials database, which gives patients the chance to search through the trust’s current research trials by disease.

In the afternoon visitors were able to view a number of information stalls and speak to research teams about other studies taking place at the RFL.

Sue Soo, a former sister at the RFH, said she attended the event as she was interested in becoming a research nurse.

“I enjoyed the day,” she said. “I am thinking of going into clinical trials so this has been a great help in introducing me to the work and all the research that is being done.”

Xuehua Zhang, a visiting student from the Zhejiang University School of Medicine in China, said: “I really like hearing about the immunology and gene therapy research that is happening here. The research they are doing here is so advanced, and yet it can still be used to benefit patients through these clinical trials.”

Find out more about research happening at the Royal Free London.

Image: Dr David Chao


Notes to editors

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About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare.

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, haemophilia, renal, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London. Read our news story: A bigger trust, a better future.