The University of Birmingham and University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust have announced that they are to join forces to establish a world-class medical, technology research and training academy in the city – the UK’s Harvard.

The Birmingham Clinical Research Academy - the first of its kind in the UK – aims to seamlessly translate research from the laboratory bench to patient bedside, to help save and prolong lives. The Academy will focus on bringing significant clinical trials and research studies to Birmingham.

The launch of the BCRA is in tune with current government thinking, as last month, the Department of Health announced funding of £50million to develop Academic Health Centres of the Future.

Professor Richard Lilford has been appointed as the Director of the Academy. He is Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and Head of Division of Primary Care, Occupational and Public Health, Primary Care at the University of Birmingham.

Prior to this Richard has held a number of senior roles in Birmingham, the UK and South Africa. He was Director of R&D for the NHS Executive West Midlands and Honorary Professor of Health Services Research, University of Birmingham (September 1995-2001). From July 1996 to October 2003 he was NHS Clinical Trials Advisor.

Richard was accredited as a specialist by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1982 and is an Honorary Professor at the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  Richard was also Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Leeds for 11 years.

Although the initiative has been instigated and is being led by University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Birmingham, the Academy will also include significant involvement from Aston and Birmingham City Universities, and it is hoped that other NHS Trusts will join as the Academy becomes established.

Julie Moore, Chief Executive of University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust comments: “From an NHS perspective it is hugely important that we work to develop collaborations to improve the quality of patient care. With a state of the art new hospital opening in 2010, we want the best in research and clinical trials for our patients.

“This is an extremely innovative partnership that will enable academics and clinicians to share best practice in medical research and training, while also enhancing links with industry. Birmingham, with the benefits of its infrastructure and cultural diversity is the ideal place to locate an academy.”

The co-located Hospital Trust and University are already highly regarded for medical research. The Academy will deliver the best in clinical care, research, training and innovation and ensuring that research is translated into real benefits for patients.

Professor Michael Sheppard, the University of Birmingham’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Resources comments: “We are delighted to be able to further develop the already strong links between the Hospital Trust and the University through the formation of the Birmingham Clinical Research Academy. The Academy has the potential to provide tremendous benefits for patients in our region.

“This will help bring together the outstanding scientific and clinical work of the two organisations to ensure that new technologies and drugs reach patients through clinical trials. We are also very keen to involve other NHS Trusts from across the region, who already work with researchers at the University, in developing the Academy further.”

One of the next steps for Professor Richard Lilford, Director of the Academy, is to begin to develop the capital build project and identify potential sites so that a home can be built for the Academy.



The University of Birmingham and the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHBFT) already enjoy a strong working partnership, and both organisations have benefited from a physical campus co-location for more than 50 years, with the University’s Medical School and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital sited next door to each other.