Spotlight on hospital charity’s role in research

Over the years Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity has been instrumental in funding some important and innovative research at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals.

This support was formalised in the last few years with specific and targeted funding schemes which have helped staff and teams across our hospitals, allowing them to deliver much needed patient focused research.

Research funding is fundamental in ensuring the projects and trials needed to improve patient care can be carried out. However, obtaining these funds through national competitions can be extremely challenging, with limited funding options available and strong competition from other centres and hospitals.

This makes the Charity’s willingness to fund small projects and individuals all the more important. The Charity’s research funding schemes allow for more patient focused, immediate patient benefit projects to be funded. It also helps to invest in individuals and teams who require the help needed to go on to successfully apply for external funding.

Research and innovation is also the Charity’s biggest single area of funding and one of three key priorities in its grants strategy, alongside COVID-19 recovery and improving the patient experience.

Richard Bowyer, CEO of the Charity highlights the importance of the role Charity funding has in research: “Supporting research and innovation is absolutely central to the work of Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity and this why we’ve invested almost £7m in a wide variety of projects over the last three years.

“We are proud to have supported so many talented researchers over this period, whose ideas and energy are crucial to expanding the possibilities of healthcare. We prioritise projects where there aren’t other sources funding available and look forward to continuing to partner with the hospitals to make a difference to heart and lung patients.”

The first of the Charity’s research funding schemes was the Charity-funded research fellowships, an annual scheme launched in 2019, which supports the training and development of non-medical staff.

Funding has so far been awarded to 9 members of staff including nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, physiologists and scientists. With funding of up to £50,000 to cover salary for a year, staff are able to conduct research, develop their research skills and produce data to win further funding.  

The Charity’s second research funding initiative came through the Research Management Fund (RMF) which funds specific projects that strive to tackle heart and lung disease and achieve excellent patient benefit and care.

The RMF scheme allows research teams to apply for a maximum of £100,000 as a means of pump priming research infrastructure or to conduct a research project.  Since it’s launch in 2020 the scheme has seen five research teams and infrastructure projects funded, covering a wide range of areas including myocardial disease, bronchiectasis and catheter ablations.

More recently, the Charity has supported the Clinical Academic Career Development Programme which funds non-medical junior clinical academic roles for one year. The roles sit within clinical departments at the hospitals, and have a 50% clinical, 50% research role, with the scheme funding the research component of the role and the clinical component funded by department applying.

The main purpose of this scheme is that recipients get a sense of what it means to be clinical academic and whether this is a career route they want to pursue.  It also gives their employing department a chance to see the value of this role and the opportunities it can bring into their team.  

Lyndon Bridgewater, associate director of research, said: “The support of the Charity has been instrumental in the development and expansion of our research programme and this close relationship is a key reason behind the success of our research portfolio.

“The on-going investment in research has helped build a culture or research and innovation across our hospitals. These schemes allow us to continue to prioritise investment in our staff and facilities to increase the opportunities to participate in research projects. We will continue to work closely with the Charity to continue to strengthen our relationship, working collaboratively to co-design new schemes and initiatives that will maximise impact to our staff and patients.

You can read more about the most recent recipients of some of the schemes below:

Charity-funded research fellowships
Research Management Fund
Clinical Academic Career Development Programme

To find out more about funding opportunities please contact us.