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© APEx
In shot: Rich Smith, Lisa Roberts, Nigel Acheson (Chief Medical Office NHS Devon) Richard Neal, John Campbell

The early success of the University of Exeter’s membership of the national network of National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Schools for Primary Care Research has been celebrated at a launch event. 

Exeter joined the partnership between nine leading academic centres for primary care research in England last year. The network’s main aim is to increase evidence underpinning primary care – the first point of care that a patient encounters in the NHS - through high-quality research and strategic leadership.

Yesterday’s (Wednesday 22nd June) event at Sandy Park brought together key regional NHS leaders and representatives of the other member universities of the School for Primary Care Research (SPCR) in order to develop new collaborations. The meeting was opened by Prof Lisa Roberts (Vice-Chancellor) and Prof Rich Smith (Deputy Vice-Chancellor).

Professor John Campbell, Director of the Exeter NIHR School for Primary Care Research commented: “Securing membership of the School for Primary Care Research is a tremendous step forward in meeting our research ambitions, and reflects sustained excellence in primary care research activity over many years. Our research focuses on problems that matter to patients and to the wider health service – how care should be best organised, how people can access primary care services, how we can achieve early cancer diagnosis in primary care, identifying best approaches to managing mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and meeting the challenges presented by an ageing population. We’ve already seen huge success in a very short timeframe, and we also look forward to formally announcing the appointment of two new professors in the near future.”

In the 15 months since Exeter’s funding began, Exeter has been awarded through the SPCR:

  • 19 Project Grant awards (of which 15 led by Exeter researchers)
  • Three Post-Doctoral Fellowships
  • One SPCR / Wellcome Clinical Doctoral Training Fellowship and two SPCR PhD studentships
  • Four Undergraduate Internships

The NIHR School for Primary Care Research was established in 2006, and its membership is ‘renewed and refreshed’ every five years.

Professor Richard Neal, who organised the event, commented: “I was delighted to see so many colleagues from other universities, the NHS, and locally from Exeter in the same room to share our success so far. Importantly, we began many conversations that I am convinced will lead to future large scale collaborative and impactful research with the NHS and other leading universities.”