The Imperial College NHS Trust, Britain’s first academic health science centre, is looking to recruit 30 new professors in a £4m-a-year ($8m) investment aimed at ensuring UK clinical research matches the best in the world.
The centre was formed through the recent merger of the college’s medical faculties with most of west London’s major teaching hospitals. This created a body intended to make it easier to translate research into practical application at the bedside, allowing the UK to hold its own against US medical academic centres such as Johns Hopkins, Stanford, the Massachusetts General and the Mayo clinic.
“This is now a globally competitive business,” Professor Steve Smith said, with the trust expecting to recruit the majority of the additional professors on salaries of about £130,000 a year from outside Britain.
Around 10 professors a year will be added to the existing 200 over the next three years. With about 650 other researchers, the institution is already one of the biggest medical faculties in Europe with some £130m a year of research funding.
The direct tie-up between the faculty and the National Health Service makes funding the posts and apportioning costs easier than in the days of separate NHS and university budgets, while making complex “bench to bedside” studies easier to undertake, Professor Smith said.
The initial recruits will be in areas that Imperial considers its strengths including cardiovascular science, renal medicine, imaging and rheumatology and translational medicine, along with a chair in statistics specialising in clinical trial methodology.
Others will follow in public health, primary care, infectious disease and other specialisms. Professor Smith said that, while a small number of the posts would cover retirements, most represented part of an ambitious expansion plan.
The evidence suggests that academic health science centres do a better job of translating research into treatment than simple collaboration between university departments and hospitals.
In the UK, University College London Hospitals, and the Guys/St Thomas’s trusts are also at least tentatively examining whether London could support a second or even a third such centre through tie-ups with University and King’s colleges.
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