NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Barts: our cardiovascular research partnership with Barts Health and the Barts Heart Centre

The William Harvey Research Institute (WHRI) at Queen Mary University of London is an internationally acknowledged centre of excellence in the field of cardiovascular research and therapeutic innovation and is proud to work closely with the Barts Heart Centre at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, one of the largest secondary and tertiary cardiovascular centres in Europe. The cardiovascular programmes at the WHRI and the Barts Heart Centre are closely aligned to maximise our collective expertise and strengths in areas such as pharmacological and device development that lead to innovative clinical trials for the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease whilst offering a range of professional training opportunities. Combined, our strategic approach enables the development and delivery of world-leading clinical care.

About the Barts Heart Centre 

  • A world-class cardiovascular centre for patient care and research with the hub of its services at St Bartholomew’s Hospital where approximately 80,000 patient episodes occur per year.
  • Part of the largest NHS Trust in the UK, it is the UK’s largest heart centre, serving a local population in North and East London region of ~6 million people.
  • More heart surgery and cardiac procedures are undertaken in the BHC than any other centre in Europe.
  • Part of UCL Partners (UCLP), the UK’s largest academic health science network. This has created a world leading platform for innovation, linking academic, genomics, industry and the NHS for the benefit of patients.
  • Training and development at the Barts Heart Centre is second to none. Being one of the largest cardiac centres in Europe allows for unique and high-quality training opportunities in specialist and emerging areas, such as TAVI, GUCH, advanced Heart Failure, Cardiomyopathy and Imaging. The Barts Heart Centre has one of the best programmes for Cardiology St3+ training in the UK and is running one of the first national pilots in Post CCT-Fellowships. It also has a well-developed non-medical educational programme to support development at all levels including specialist nursing roles and surgical care practitioner roles.  

The NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Barts 

Established in April 2017, the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre at Barts (NIHR BRC) will deliver a translational research programme focussing on the themes of ‘Inherited Cardiovascular Disorders’ and ‘Cardiovascular Devices & Innovative Trials’ with the WHRI as its key delivery partner. Building on the achievements of the NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit at Barts (2010-2017), world leading expertise in genomics, device development and stratified medicine at the WHRI and the diverse patient population at the Barts Heart Centre offering a ‘translational research window of the world’ will facilitate our aspirations to innovate and deliver novel diagnostics and therapies for cardiac disease. The BRC maintains strong links with industry, hosts a high number of commercial clinical trials and has established a transatlantic partnership with Yale University in the USA. 

The Barts BioResource 

Launched in October 2014, the Barts BioResource (BBR) is a partnership between Barts Health NHS Trust and the WHRI with support from the NIHR. Currently one of the world’s fastest growing medical research initiatives, the BBR is an accessible information resource of cardiovascular patient donated healthcare data and biological samples (such as blood and tissue) for use in the development and undertaking of cardiovascular based research opportunities with a view to them being translated into improved healthcare services and patient outcomes.

All Barts Heart Centre patients are offered the opportunity to take part in a range of research initiatives with a dedicated team of nurses and technicians on hand to recruit them. Patients who agree to become part of the BBR consent for their healthcare data and/or biological samples to be used for clinical research studies and to be recalled up to four times per year to participate in the same. The BBR is home to one of the UK's most cutting-edge advanced cardiovascular imaging and bioinformatics facilities with its infrastructure based on a state-of–the-art multi-petabyte data centre platform.

As of April 2017, over 12,000 patients have been recruited to the BBR, which is enjoying growth of ~400 patients per month. 

Barts Patient and Public Engagement Involvement 

The Barts Heart Centre is committed to engaging patients and the public so that it may better establish and undertake research activities of the highest quality with a view to achieving maximum impact in the development and delivery of clinical care. The Public and Patients Advisory Group (PPAG) is a key enabler to achieve this and offers significant contributions to the Barts Heart Centre and WHRI research strategies. The PPAG membership is diverse with a healthy mix of people hailing from all walks of life who have a personal and/or professional interest in cardiovascular research and its associated impact. Providing a range of invaluable insight/direction to researchers and clinicians, it supports the work of the Barts Heart Centre and WHRI on a variety of levels e.g. commentary on research proposals/delivery, ongoing engagement in research opportunities, and advice to professionals at different stages in their careers. The PPAG is integral to the ongoing success of the work of the Barts Heart Centre and WHRI and its membership act as ambassadors to both centres internally and externally, for instance by running a range of patient and public facing events such as the annual ‘Barts and Queen Mary Science Festival’. 

Research Training  

The Barts Heart Centre has an extensive research education programme open to all medical, clinical and allied healthcare professions along with regular research clinics and forums. The Centre links through the WHRI to offer opportunities such as the British Heart Foundation (BHF) PhD fellowships scheme, the EU Marie Curie Co-fund award, MSc funding in drug development and research methods and NIHR clinical fellowships and training through the BRC.




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