Medical scientist in a laboratory looking into a microscope

About our Research

What is research?

Medical (or healthcare) research describes the process by which we aim to further knowledge about the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human illness. Research generally starts with a question (or hypothesis) that we wish to answer and then proceeds – through the careful conduct of a clinical trial, study or project – to answer that question.

We are involved in a very diverse range of research, from trialling completely new medicines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies, through to studies that aim to tell us how we can better organise and deliver healthcare services. Importantly all of our research aims to improve human health through new discoveries or by better, more efficient, or more cost-effective use of existing knowledge, sometimes as it applies specifically to the people of East Kent.

Find out how to get involved with our research.

Our vision

Making a difference to the experience and outcomes of health care to the people of Kent, the NHS and internationally through Research, Inquiry and Innovation.

Areas of Research and Types of Study

Much of the research we are involved in is called ‘clinical research’ – that is research that is conducted in people (or patients) with particular conditions or users of particular services. Occasionally we will undertake research in healthy volunteers, and some of our staff are involved in laboratory-based research, often through collaboration with other researchers at universities in Kent and beyond. You can also to find out about our areas of research here.

Please click on a topic below to find out more:

We are actively involved in the majority of common disease areas – and some rarer ones – perhaps with the exception of certain highly specialized areas that are not provided by East Kent Hospitals such as clinical genetics, metabolic medicine, cardio-thoracic surgery, specialised paediatrics etc. Additionally, our researchers come from the whole range of professional backgrounds including medicine, nursing, midwifery, physiotherapy, biomedical (laboratory) scientists and other professionals allied to medicine. A full description of our areas of research can be found here.

A clinical trial (or Clinical Trial of Investigational Medicinal Product, CTIMP) is a specific term used to describe a trial of a medicine that often entails comparing an experimental medicine or treatment with an existing or placebo (dummy) medicine or treatment. Clinical trials are authorized by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/medicines-and-healthcare-products-regulatory-agency and are very carefully regulated. All new medicines that are authorized for routine use in the UK will have been evaluated through a clinical trial.

An interventional study describes research where a person with a particular condition undergoes an intentional, pre-determined change in treatment (or intervention – hence the name) with follow-up to determine the outcome of that intervention. A Clinical Trial (or CTIMP) is an example of an interventional study. Other interventional studies will include studies of new (or existing) medical devices – for example, hip replacement prostheses – or new pathways of delivering care.

An observational study does not involve intentionally changing any aspect of a person’s current treatment for their condition. This type of study may involve gathering information – for example, via a questionnaire; or collection of blood or other tissue samples.

Why we do research

Put quite simply “we do research because that’s how you get better treatment”.

Prevention and treatment of human illness and disease has evolved beyond recognition since the formation of the NHS in 1948, and much of this progress has arisen through people undertaking and participating in research.

A local example is how we treat people following strokes. The IST-3 study – in which East Kent Hospitals participated – demonstrated that the use of clot-busting, thrombolytic drugs significantly reduced disability and deaths following strokes. This and other related knowledge has led directly to a complete re-organisation of the care of, and outcomes for, people following a stroke in East Kent and across the UK.

We also undertake research because our patients and the people of East Kent have consistently told us they would like to be treated in a hospital that is research-active and to opportunities to participate in research studies. We have found that our participants have varied motivations for wanting to take part, but many do so out of a deep sense of altruism – ‘wanting to give something back’ and ‘wanting to help future generations’ are common sentiments – as well as wanting to get a better understanding of their own condition.

Finally, as an organisation we recognise that our staff want to be able to give the best possible care to all of our patients. By being research-active we will help create an environment in which being curious and innovative becomes second-nature for all of us, and will help us to attract the best people to provide the best outcome and care to the people of East Kent.

Find out more on our Get Involved page

How you can get involved

If you are interested in taking part in research, please talk to you doctor or other healthcare professional to find out if there are any suitable studies open that you may be able to take part in.

Alternatively, to find out which research studies are currently running in east Kent, please look on the NIHR Be Part of Research website.

In addition to actually participating in our research, there are many other ways you can get involved. Find out more on our Get Involved page

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Download our vision and strategy doc

Download our Vision and Strategy Document