Get to know the Clinical Team at the NIHR BioResource

A look at the role of the Clinical Team at the NIHR BioResource: who they are, what they do, how you can become one of the volunteers they look after, and the support they offer researchers who rely on the BioResource to deliver effective, efficient and impactful health research.

From left to right, Gillian, Dani, Barbara, Aisha and Emma from our clinical team all smiling in nursing uniform outside our Clinical Research Unit building
L-R: Gillian, Dani, Barbara, Aisha and Emma from the BioResource Clinical Team

Have you ever wanted to know more about what goes on in the various and varied departments that make up the national coordinating team at the NIHR BioResource in Cambridge? We hope so! In this new quarterly feature, we'll be interviewing different members of staff to find out more about their team, to see what makes them tick and understand how their work fits within the overall activity of the BioResource.   

To kick things off, we spoke to Lead Research Nurse, Barbara Graves, to get the lowdown on the Clinical Team. 

Hi Barbara – can you tell us about the role of the clinical team at the BioResource? 

The clinical team coordinates and delivers recall studies requiring clinical activities for the NIHR BioResource. We also recruit volunteers for the NIHR BioResource Research Tissue Bank and the NIHR Rare Diseases BioResource in a variety of clinical environments. 

The team can undertake research studies requiring a number of clinical activities including, but not limited to venepuncture, biometric measurements and skin biopsies. The clinical team focus on making research accessible to volunteers and can offer a variety of appointments in our clinical facility and off-site at a volunteer's home or place of work. 

We are part of the national team and the local BioResource Centre here in Cambridge, working on local and national research studies.  

And where are the Clinical Team based?  

The clinical team are based in the NIHR Cambridge BRC Clinical Research Unit in Addenbrooke's hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.  

Who is in the Clinical Team?  

The clinical team is made up of myself as Lead Research Nurse, seven Research Nurses -  Emma, Aisha, Dani, Davide, Helen, Anita, Sarah - and a Research Support Assistant, Gillian. The Clinical Team is part of the Operations Department at the BioResource and reports to Operations Lead Hannah Stark. 

What’s the best thing about working in your team?

Working in such a compassionate, caring and supportive team is a pleasure. The clinical team work hard to support each other and even harder to advocate for their volunteers.

What three words best describe the Clinical team?

Friendly, outstanding, and efficient.

Dani explaining the consent process to a new volunteer

What are the different categories that are relevant to your statistics?  

RTB-GEN (Research Tissue Bank – GENeral Population) recruitment The NIHR BioResource recruits volunteers with common diseases, rare diseases and from the general population. RTB-GEN refers to our cohort of volunteers who are from the general population. Anyone can join the general population cohort. If they live close to one of our local centres they can join the panel at that centre, or they can join our national cohort which recruits from across England. Those who live close to Cambridge can join the Cambridge panel by attending an appointment at our clinical research unit at Addenbrookes to give a blood or saliva sample. 

RD (Rare Disease) recruitment Volunteers with specific Rare Diseases can join the NIHR Rare Diseases BioResource. Our Recruitment Research Nurse attends a variety of clinics on the Cambridge University Hospital site to enable volunteers who meet the specific criteria to join the NIHR Rare Diseases BioResource. 

Off-site visits Not all volunteers are able to attend the clinical facility in Cambridge for their research appointments. If appropriate for the study, members of our clinical team can travel to the volunteer’s home addresses/suitable work addresses to complete the study visit. 

Recall – an example of a recall study would be the GENBIO study which is all about the Molecular investigation of genetic factors in cardiovascular and immune-related traits and diseases. This study focused on helping to understand how our genes affect our risk of heart disease and identifying changes in the DNA code of people with and without heart disease. Research found that many of these DNA changes are in genes involved in inflammation, which is an important process in the development of heart disease. The research team will use innovative computational and experimental methods to investigate these genes in great detail and how they affect immune cell function and disease. With this knowledge, we hope to develop new therapeutic strategies to help and benefit patients with heart disease.  

How do you look after volunteers and how does someone become one?  

The volunteer experience is a priority to the clinical team, we will go out of our way to ensure that every volunteer has an excellent experience participating in research. We try our best to be accommodating to individuals’ circumstances, and appointment times and visit volunteers at home if needed. 

The NIHR BioResource entered and won the Nursing Times Award for Clinical Research in 2015 for our Volunteer Centric Model of Research Nursing Practice. This is a model that we apply to our research practice every day. 

How do you support researchers and how can researchers find out more information on how to apply?  

The NIHR BioResource can support researchers with: 

  • Research based on specific genotypic or phenotypic criteria, 
  • Data and/or stored samples from patients and healthy volunteers. 
  • Recruitment of volunteers for research studies. 

For research that will be conducted by the research team we can facilitate the following:  

  • Volunteer selection 
  • Volunteer screening 
  • Initial invites to the study 
  • Links to online studies 

We also offer a full study facilitation service that includes:  

  • Volunteer selection and screening 
  • Recruitment into the study 
  • Managing appointments
  • Consent 
  • Sample collection 
  • Transportation of samples to the research team 

Researchers can find out more about using the NIHR BioResource by vising our website. For all enquiries, please contact us via nbr@bioresource.nihr.ac.uk

You can keep up to date with the NIHR BioResource on Twitter and LinkedIn

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