World leading collaboration to revolutionise dementia research in the UK

24 July 2014

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I) joined another four leading mental health trusts in England to launch a partnership aimed at revolutionising dementia research in the UK.

Researchers across C&I, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, West London Mental Health NHS Trust and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust will use software developed by the NHS using National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funding that takes information from patients' records without revealing sensitive information that could identify them or their carers.

D-CRIS (Dementia Clinical Record Interactive Search) is a world-leading resource which will enable large datasets to be pooled so that research can be conducted on a large scale.

It will provide  researchers with access to one million patient records and enabling them to identify trends in the data and investigate why treatments work for some patients and are not as effective for others.

Wendy Wallace, C&I's Chief Executive, was delighted to have the trust involved in the innovative programme and is looking forward to seeing what this will achieve.

"Being able to pool data and resources in this way means that our research has greater validity, both in terms of results and impact. Any research trials that we conduct will now be across a research population of one million - the impact on improving patient treatment and care will be significant", she said.

"This is why I am delighted that D-CRIS is being launched today with the full involvement of my trust. I am looking forward to seeing the results of this partnership."

D-CRIS was first developed at the NIHR Dementia Biomedical Research Unit at SlaM and the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London.

Electronic Patient Record (EPR) systems hold a wealth of rich clinical patient data. D-CRIS transforms this data into a pseudonymised database appropriate for research use.

This comprises data recorded in coded and structured form, including dates and scores, plus data held in unstructured free text form, for example, within written assessments, progress notes and correspondence. 

The project is part of the Strategy for UK Life Sciences, which outlines an ambitious vision to promote the UK as a competitive global hub for life sciences, enabling an environment where the NHS, academia, industry and patients work collaboratively. 

D-CRIS has received ethical approval from an independent committee outside the trusts, as a safe, secure and confidential information source for research.

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