Team of researchers pose for photo in The Exchange

Since its launch in 2011, the NIHR Surgical Reconstruction Microbiology Research Centre (SRMRC) has tackled some of the biggest questions in trauma research. This month the SRMRC has showcased some of its most impactful research findings, as funding for the Centre now draws to a close. But it won’t be the last we hear of trauma research in the region. Researchers also previewed some new results from yet to be published studies, so there is certainly more to come.

Hosted by the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, with projects led by the University of Birmingham and its wealth of research expertise, the unique Centre has been ideally located on a vibrant campus. Benefitting too from a diverse local population and its connections with military casualties through the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, which is based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

"The SRMRC was incredibly important to my research.  It gave me the opportunity to meet clinical staff and patients and use my expertise to address real-world problems.  From the work that started by the SRMRC, the team has created a range of products that have moved from concept to first-in-human studies using funding from across UKRI and the NIHR." Professor Liam Grover, School of Chemical Engineering.

Prior to the SRMRC I had only worked in elderly trauma, namely hip fracture. The SRMRC allowed me to expand my research to understand the impact of major trauma in young adults. Importantly the research revealed that whilst there are major differences in how the body responds to an injury with age, our research identified one change that was seen in adults of all ages, namely a rapid fall in the hormone DHEA. This led to a trial of DHEA supplementation aimed at preventing muscle loss and improving immunity after a trauma. Without SRMRC this study would never have happened.

Professor Janet Lord, Institute of Inflammation and Ageing.

During its time the Centre has been influenced by a strong partnership with the military at a key time with conflicts in both Afghanistan and Iraq running alongside the Centre’s lifespan. The Centre has also had the opportunity to respond and learn from both the Ebola crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The SRMRC has focused its research efforts around four key aims:

  • Translating lessons learnt from the military into clinical practice
  • Designing clinical trials that could be tested in the NHS and then implemented into the military
  • Developing an innovative and holistic academic and clinical training for tomorrow’s leaders
  • Developing collaborative research partnerships and facilitate engagement with industry

Over the years the work has been shaped by a close partnership with patients, the public and communities to deliver meaningful and inclusive involvement and engagement activities, to improve outcomes for trauma patients.

I am proud to live in Birmingham and be part of the SRMRC. Somehow, I feel part of this big team, having my voice and expertise heard. Attending meetings, showcases, discussions with nurses, doctors, students, academics. We work together to turn a simple idea into something much bigger for patients worldwide. We're not just part of the research, we're at the heart of research.

Carla, member of the Trauma, Accident, Burns and Critical Care (TrABC) group.

The SRMRC has been jointly funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Ministry of Defence, the British government department in charge of putting into place the Government’s defence policy and the headquarters of the British Armed Forces. University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Birmingham match funded the Centre’s work.