Cambridge Children’s aims to transform healthcare for children and young people through the seamless integration of mental and physical health care and advanced genomic medicine. Advanced healthcare facilities will be co-located with world-leading research which seeks to understand the early origins of disease, to build resilience and improve life trajectories, and to shift from reactive care to prevention. To deliver on this vision for innovative, integrated research and healthcare, NHS Cambridge Children’s Hospital (CCH) is a combined development, which proposes to embed a 5,000 sq.m multidisciplinary Cambridge Children’s Research Institute (CCRI). Through location on the CBC, Cambridge Children’s will bring together clinicians, patients and University investigators with world-class biomedical research organisations and industry partners, creating further collaborative opportunities to improve translation of novel discoveries through the clinic and into practice.
Our research strategy
Both Children’s Hospital and Research Institute will adopt an integrated cross-specialty approach, which spans physical and mental health. Our six core research centres are shown below, along with the shared approaches and technologies which will help deliver their results.
Mental Health and Neurodevelopmental Centre
The Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research will be one of two flagship centres within the Cambridge Children’s Research Institute, with dry and wet laboratory space. Its work will feed into many clinical and research areas at Cambridge Children’s and it will particularly interface with the Health Innovation Centre and Device and Apps Group. Its work will include psychiatry, psychology and autism research, with areas of inquiry including early identification of poor mental health in children and young people with long-term disease or conditions; optimising outcomes for patients with complex long-term conditions; and tackling the co-development of poor physical and mental health in certain vulnerable groups.
Genomic Medicine Centre
The Centre for Genomic Medicine will be one of two flagship centres within the Cambridge Children’s Research Institute, with dry and wet laboratory space. The Centre will develop fundamental genetic science and clinically applicable methods, particularly whole genome sequencing and gene and cell therapies, as a gateway to the effective prevention and treatment of a range of conditions. It will especially focus on serious and rare genetic brain and mitochondrial disorders and using genome sequencing for early detection of genetic disease to improve clinical management, including gene therapies.
Laboratory for Childhood Cancer Research
The Centre for Childhood Cancer Research will focus on questions arising about the origins of childhood cancers. Cancer and blood disorders – e.g., leukaemia, brain cancer and sickle cell disease – are still a leading cause of death and disability in children and young people. Areas of inquiry include early detection with biomarkers taken from a blood test; both mental and physical ‘precision rehabilitation’ for children recovering from brain cancer surgery; and basic science investigation into the origins of devastating paediatric cancers of the body and brain.
Laboratory for Childhood Diabetes and Obesity
Obesity and diabetes are leading causes of morbidity for children in the UK and closely linked to socioeconomic background and in some cases, genetic vulnerability. Cambridge’s research focuses on early detection and even prevention of Type-1 diabetes. The team has a strong record of success, for example, inventing the “artificial pancreas” and setting a global standard of care, delivering the right dose of insulin around the clock, using technology that can be run from a smart phone.
Laboratory for Infection and Inflammation
The Centre for Infection and Inflammation will examine questions such as how serious infections (such as COVID-19) on children who are acutely unwell and also the long-term effects. Using ‘omic’ technologies we will gain insights on the immune system in infection and inflammatory bowel disease and also how inflammation affects brain and mental health.
Laboratory for Perinatal Research
The Centre for Perinatal Research will focus on research such as the Pregnancy Outcomes Predictions Study 2 (POPS2) and prevention of stillbirth, linking across Cambridge Children’s and the Rosie (maternity) hospitals. It will identify new ways to prevent death and disability from preterm birth, stillbirth and devastating neonatal brain injuries.
Cambridge Children’s Health Innovation Hub
The Cambridge Children’s Health Innovation Hub brings together applied health research and data science in three interlinked areas. “Neuromics”, led by the newly endowed Gnodde Goldman Sachs Professorship of Neuro-informatics (Department of Psychiatry), will link clinical neuroimaging, cognitive and behavioural data for deep phenotyping and better prediction of health risk and stratified therapies. The NIHR Children and Young People BioResource national platform will recruit cohorts of children and young people who have consented for data related research. This will include genotype and clinical health record linkages; further research to investigate educational and other social outcomes integrating environmental exposures to dissect fundamental origins of disease; and the impact of nature versus nurture. Linking with both these and across Cambridge Children’s, the Applied Health Group will focus on developing the evidence base for novel interventions stratified according to physical and/or mental health risks, providing data to more rapidly support integration into routine clinical practice in the UK. This latter will be the basis of an international partnership to demonstrate the benefits of novel interventions in the context of universal healthcare, a system that has application in the United States and around the world.
How to get involved
- The research institute, along with the Children’s Hospital is the focus of a major fundraising campaign – you can find out more by clicking here.
- A dedicated CCRI seminar series begun taking place on a fortnightly basis in April 2021. If you would like to receive information on when the next seminar will be taking place, please subscribe to our mailing list or get in touch via email. We also welcome speaker suggestions!
- CCRI welcomes collaborations from UK and international partners and we are seeking strategic commercial partnerships covering digital technology, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics & devices and other relevant sectors. Please contact us for further details.