04 February 2015

World-class medical research from Yorkshire universities highlighted in report

World-class medical research from Yorkshire universities in the fields of blood disorders, reproductive medicine and depression has been highlighted in a key report.

"The Health of the Nation: the impact of UK medical schools' research" report, published by the Medical Schools Council, features research projects from Hull York Medical School, based at the University of York, and the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield as examples of research which has had a significant impact on societal health.

In a programme of research led by Hull York Medical School at the University of York, Professor Simon Gilbody oversaw a team looking into how best to improve the recognition and treatment for people with depression. The York-based team developed effective and efficient methods to treat depression by combining the advantages of talking therapy with better drug treatment. They quickly realised that care would be aided by real-time computer systems which led to the development of a case management system (PCMIS). Researchers were able to record a patient's response to treatment so they could be monitored in real time. Their PCMIS computer system has tracked over three million episodes of care in the NHS. Their on-going £2.5M CASPER programme of research into better care for older people with depression is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and will produce further research intelligence for the NHS, with the potential to transform services.

Professor Gilbody said: "Depression is very common and costs the UK economy around £25 billion per year. We are keen to expand services, reduce stigma and ensure that people receive care in their own homes or in their GP surgery. We find that people want better access to 'talking therapies' and that this might be combined with medication where appropriate. Our research is beginning to show how this can be achieved, giving hope to the millions of people who suffer with depression."

 The examples of research in the report cover the spectrum from clinical practice to global health and the economy. They are taken from medical schools’ submissions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, which reported its results in December.

Those results showed that, of the examples of research submitted across all subjects, the impact of clinical medicine is unmatched in the percentage of its research which achieved the highest 4* grade rating and in its overall 'research power'. This is determined by multiplying average grading by the number of staff whose work was included.

Professor Iain Cameron, Chair of the Medical Schools Council, said: "The life sciences sector is the UK's third largest contributor to economic growth with a turnover of more than £50 billion. It is made up of many different kinds of organisation but the expertise that drives the sector comes from universities, the researchers who go on to work in companies large and small, and of course in the crucial work being done in the universities themselves.

"Medical schools play a key role here. In the UK we have the best academic institutions working with the best research companies and supported by an unrivalled research infrastructure from basic discovery to clinical impact, funded by the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research, the Wellcome Trust and others in the medical charities sector. It’s crucial for the nation’s health and wealth."