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Leicester’s Hospitals dominate at regional research awards


Research staff at Leicester’s Hospitals were celebrating last week at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) East Midlands Research Awards. 

Individuals and teams from the Trust - together with their University of Leicester clinical research colleagues who work in the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre - were nominated and shortlisted in all six categories, and were declared the winner in five. 

The awards, which took place in Nottingham on Thursday 25 November, were to celebrate inspiring achievements from the health research world in the East Midlands. This year’s awards focused on the impact of research over the last 18 months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The awards ceremony began with a moving keynote speech from Alex Guerrero, a participant on the RECOVERY trial who was treated for COVID-19 at Glenfield Hospital during the first wave of the pandemic. 

Speaking in a pre-recorded message, he said: “I feel really grateful, I feel humble and I feel happy that I was part of research that has helped millions of people.

“The past 18 months have been one of the most intense periods of my life. There is no way to overstate this, but because of your work, your time, all those sleepless nights you had, all the times you thought we were going nowhere: I am alive.”

Richard Mitchell, Chief Executive of Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “Research has been a vital part of fighting this pandemic and Leicester colleagues have excelled at bringing research into our clinical areas. We have one of the lowest mortality rates from coronavirus in the country, due in part to the numbers of patients that have received trial medications that have later been shown to make a significant difference to survival and recovery from COVID-19. I’m delighted these remarkable efforts have been rewarded.”

Professor Nigel Brunskill, Director of Research and Innovation at Leicester’s Hospitals, collected the ‘Special Recognition for Contribution to COVID-19 Research’ award on behalf of the entire Research workforce. 

He said: “Everyone – from doctors and nurses, to trial managers and administrative staff, to pharmacy and our amazing clinical support, have worked exceptionally well together as one team throughout the pandemic. Their dedication has made an enormous impact on people’s lives. It was an honour to collect this award on their behalf.”

Tim Skelton, Research and Innovation Chief Operating Officer at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “We are delighted that the individuals and teams in our research facilities have been recognised for their achievements. These include leading a national study into Long COVID through the BRC, and supporting patients to join the award-winning RECOVERY trial. 

“In particular, it is thanks to leaders like Dr Adrian Palfreeman, who ran a COVID-19 vaccine trial in our Patient Recruitment Centre, and Professor Chris Brightling in our BRC respiratory research team, that we have out-performed some of the bigger research institutions in the country.”

Leicester’s Hospitals winners and runners-up list: 

Outstanding achievement by an individual

Winner: Dr Adrian Palfreeman – for his work on the ENSEMBLE-2 COVID-19 vaccine trial, Cov-Boost vaccine trial, while partly being redeployed to the Intensive Care Unit

Runner up: Professor Chris Brightling – for his dynamism in leading the response to the COVID-19 pandemic across Leicester

Outstanding achievement by a team

Winner: Pharmacy Clinical Trials Team – for their impact in delivering Urgent Public Health studies while continuing to maintain ongoing research

Putting patients first

Winner: Recovery Trial Team at Glenfield – for going beyond the boundaries of clinical care to make a difference to patients while delivering a vital COVID-19 study

Rising star

Runner up: Dr Enya Daynes – for her impact, including completing a PhD thesis, moving into a shared clinical and research role, and for her work on several COVID-19 and non-COVID studies

Runner up: Dr Ehtasham Ahmad – for supporting the research effort, including the ENSEMBLE-2 vaccine trial, when the pandemic impacted on his own research

Excellent example of collaborative working

Winner: PHOSP-COVID Study Team – for the delivery of an important COVID-19 trial and creating a model that was successfully shared across the UK

Runner up: Dr Sohaib Rufai – for developing research infrastructure locally and at Great Ormond Street Hospital to deliver high impact, collaborative research using innovative solutions

Special recognition award for contribution to COVID-19 research

Winner: Research & Innovation Workforce, Leicester’s Hospitals – for their response to COVID-19, including co-leading Urgent Public Health studies, and recruiting to exceptional levels


Rachael Dowling, head of research communications, researchcomm@uhl-tr.nhs.uk