3.1 REF and Research Impact
The School was reasonably satisfied with its performance in the REF 2014 exercise especially on quality of outputs and environment statements. However there is no room for complacency and specific discussions have been held on how to raise quality further and communicate better the impact of our research. See also paragraph 3.4 on Translational Research. We will:
- Raise currently low deposition rates in the University’s Open Access repository to a target of 85% compliance by June 2016 (from a current low rate of 24% for 1st July 2015 to 31st October 2015;
- Require each Department to have posted at least one new potential Impact case per five Principal Investigators in the Department, in the University’s Impact Repository by end of June 2016;
- Having completed an audit of who is designated “not research assistant” in CHRIS exercise a tighter control of how that descriptor is applied in the future and be more transparent with SRA promotes and appointees whether they are principal investigator/principal investigator-track or high-level research support, for example managing a key scientific facility;
- Ensure that the annual appraisal system is used in part to mentor early-career principal investigator/principal investigator-track individuals so that they will be REF-ready;
- Continue dialogue with the transferred-in units on how they might strategically deploy any REF return they receive, in accordance with their respective transfer agreements;
- Boost support for major grant and bid writing by appointing a School scientific administration post to write and compile information for such bids (managing Risk 4).
3.2 Clinical Academic Reserve (CAR)
Cambridge University Health Partners (CUHP) is a fundamentally important partnership underpinning our research and teaching capabilities. There is a delicate balance and interplay between the Clinical School and the NHS, in particular Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUHNHSFT) but also Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPNHSFT), which is reciprocally beneficial and characterised by a high degree of trust and mutuality. Many NHS staff teach without reimbursement by the University. The School believes that this very high degree of integration is a precious asset and works hard to ensure that the hospital is not surprised by unexpected cost pressures, for example a decision by the University not to reappoint a clinical academic, which causes a loss of clinical capability in the Trust.
Under the CUHP umbrella and with NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) support, we are also developing research collaborations and initiatives which aim to give Cambridge an international leadership position. Recently the School held a small strategic research retreat with the European Bioinformatics Institute, with representatives also from the MRC LMB, Babraham Institute and the School of Biological Sciences. The meeting discussed research opportunities in large datasets and in silico analyses in cutting edge biomedical research, including utilizing e-Hospital data. Developing effective record linkage across East Anglia and thus connecting with primary care and a patient population of 3-5 million was viewed as important both for research and optimal patient care. We are also attentive to the relationship with Public Health England (PHE) and the opportunities which may arise in PHE’s relocation to Harlow. An opportunity will arise as Health Education England repatriates training posts from London, to provide academic centre input to developing a more coherent regional health network across the Eastern Region including further partnership working with UEA. We will:
- Continue to build on already strong strategic partnerships with major funders, for example the MRC and Wellcome Trust, which will be critical to the School’s ability to maintain and increase levels of research funding and mitigate against Risk 4 in the Register. (See also Translational Research, 3.4 below.);
- Start work on the BRC renewal;
- Build on the EBI/Clinical School retreat meeting to position the partnership to be able to respond optimally to a national competition and to enhance leadership in biomedical informatics;
- Map all the School’s linkages with Public Health England, in order to develop a strategy to strengthen this relationship;
- Work hard on communication with CUHNHSFT as it focusses on extricating itself from special measures so that the University is as supportive as possible, while also identifying clearly priorities in the joint relationship that need to be protected;
- Work in partnership with the ePIC project, competing within the year IT projects to facilitate access to patient data from University systems (a specific portal and increased bandwidth) to ensure that the research opportunities arising from e-Hospital can be captured effectively, utilizing new secure storage capacity for the School and the West Cambridge Data Centre;
- Continue to work to make CUHP an effective vehicle for strategic planning (across all areas of University activity) for the whole Campus.
3.4 Translational Research
In line with the University’s mission to contribute to society, we want to harness the research and clinical excellence in Cambridge by translating this into practical human health benefits, such as new therapeutics, devices, diagnostics or other interventions. Critical to achieving this are a diverse portfolio of academically-led translational research projects, a collaborative culture valuing knowledge exchange between different sectors and a portfolio of mutually beneficial collaborative projects with industry. The School recognizes that compared with similar research environments at other Universities it has been underperforming in cementing formal links with industry though collaborative research and that the School needs Departments to develop a “balanced portfolio” approach to external funding. The Head of School has set an ambitious target over the next decade to measure increased interaction with industry of a four-fold the amount of income from this source and the School is now well on track to achieve this. The portfolio of collaborative industry projects has already grown by 33% from a Feb 2014 baseline to June 2015.
Initiatives such as the Stem Cell Institute (SCI) and the Centre for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease (CITIID) should be magnets for translational research projects but there are also smaller scale opportunities. We have expanded our Office for Translational Research to help researchers access translational funding and develop appropriate partnerships. Further work is needed in conjunction with the Research Office to support Departments in achieving a better return on their negotiations with industrial partners especially on pricing and the presentation of costs. We have expanded the Entrepreneurs in Residence (EiR)Scheme; set up industry/academic fellowship exchange schemes; initiated the Cambridge New Therapeutics Forum (which has been very well received) and grown PhD fellowships with industrial components.
3.5 Senior Recruitment and Retention
The Annual Report to the Faculty (Annex A) details recent appointments made. Of particular strategic importance for the forthcoming year are the external appointments commencing August to October 2015 to fill the Headships of the Departments of Oncology (Li Ka Shing Chair, Richard Gilbertson), Clinical Neurosciences (Neurology Chair, Patrick Chinnery) and Paediatrics (David Rowitch) and Chairs in Clinical Neurosciences (Van Geest Chair, Michael Coleman) and Medicine (GlaxoSmithKline Professorship of Microbial Pathogenesis, Gordon Dougan). While we are not complacent, these high profile appointments have lessened concerns around Risk 9. The School still has a number of vacant Chairs to fill; we will:
- Establish as appropriate and advertise for the Chairs of Molecular Endocrinology, Clinical Microbiology, RAND Professorship of Health Services Research, Otology & Skull Base Surgery, and Respiratory Science; Surgical Oncology is ongoing;
- Examine the cases for initiating recruitment this year to the Chairs of Rheumatology, and Health Services Research for the Elderly, and.
- Plan the pre-Capella project-completion recruitment phase (this may include several Chairs currently held vacant) so that the lag phase of filling the building is minimized and thus the aims of the RPIF grant fulfilled on time
- Remain conscious that gender imbalance is particularly marked at Professorial level and use strategies to ensure that talent from minority groups at this level (both gender and others) is not overlooked.
The University and MRC have agreed that three further MRC Units (Biostatistics, Mitochondrial Biology and Cognition & Brain Sciences) will transfer in to the School of Clinical Medicine over the next eighteen months. A financial methodology has been adopted to ensure that the School is not financially penalized for taking forward this strategic option for the University. As for the previous transfers, careful project planning will be required.
In parallel, a key challenge for the School is to be able to consolidate its position against other medical schools and expand sustainably (Risk 6), while maintaining the very highest quality standards (Risk 1). Please see section 4, especially paragraph 4.8 for brief comments on potential new capital developments resulting from research vision, especially in Cancer, Children’s Health and Neurosciences and Mental Health. We will:
- Continue to encourage Departments to develop a balanced portfolio of funding including, where possible fEC costs and PI time;
- Explore alternative funding, especially endowed posts, to replace the Clinical Academic Reserve posts when they fall vacant and funding is discontinued;
- Ensure that consistent and rigorous standards are set for grading expectations and appointments across the School;
- Engage in the new MRC Units transfer-in project, to be led by the PRAO but with substantial School Office involvement.
3.7 “Cambridge Health Imaging”
The Cambridge Health Imaging Management Committee (CHIMC) under the Chairmanship of Professor Ed Bullmore is now working underneath the sponsorship umbrella of CUHP to integrate the way in which University and NHS imaging resources are used so that everyone is thinking about “our research, our patients, and our equipment”. The aim is to make the most efficient and effective use of the range of equipment available to deliver both great research and an excellent service to patients. This is challenging because it requires both cultural changes and complex financial modelling but everyone agrees the goal is worth achieving. To date, CHIMC has been very pre-occupied with the successful implementation of the MRC Clinical Infrastructures grants and overcoming the multiple estates and logistical difficulties in the projects. Reporting to the Management Committee are small working groups with responsibility for ensuring, on a day to day basis, that operational capacity for both research and service is maximized. We will:
- Complete the installation of MRC Clinical Infrastructures-funded equipment, to be University assets by March 2016 and operational by June 2016;
- Review pre-clinical imaging needs across the West Cambridge and Biomedical Campuses;
- Encourage principal investigators not familiar with the possibilities of new imaging technology to learn more about collaborative opportunities;
- Negotiate standard operating procedures and work processes to ensure that the machines are able to be as fully utilized as possible.
3.8 International Impact
The School maintains many collaborations worldwide. We wish to:
- Encourage Principal Investigators and potential Fellows to make the most of EU’s Horizon 2020 funding as calls for funding are now being made – important both reputationally and financially (Risk 4) – and encouraging Principal Investigators either to coordinate or be more assertive about their resource requirements;
- Use the analysis prepared by the International Office to focus on the most promising of the many ad hoc international approaches we receive as a School into a coherent and well prioritised and appropriately resourced programme of international engagement – this is a long term objective;
- Engage, subject to ACBELA approval, in a major consultancy exercise led by CPFT under the CUHP umbrella with a Middle Eastern nation which wishes to develop a mental health service and research strategy.