£6m medical research fund launched in east London to beat Covid

Cash windfall for Barts Life Sciences research

Cash windfall for Barts Life Sciences research - Credit: Barts NHS

Medical research to help beat the Covid pandemic and other deadly diseases has been given a £6.7million New Year cash boost in east London which could have an impact worldwide. 

The money has been raised for Barts Life Sciences partnership between Barts NHS and Queen Mary University to find better prevention, diagnosis and treatment.  

Medical research at Royal London's labs

Medical research at Royal London's labs in Whitechapel gets cash boost to find cures for Covid and other deadly diseases - Credit: Mike Brooke

The study includes Covid-19, diabetes, cancer and heart disease, which disproportionately affect east London’s 2.5 million population in one of the most ethnically-diverse and disadvantaged areas in Britain. 

“There is a wealth of data which is not currently being used as well as it could be,” Queen Mary University professor Claude Chelala explained. “This funding hopes to change that.  

“We are bringing together GPs, surgeons and computer scientists to speed up finding new treatments so that patients have a better chance of early diagnosis and more effective treatment.”

Queen Mary University medical research labs at Whitechapel

Queen Mary University's medical research labs at Whitechapel get new funding boost - Credit: QMUL

Studies by Queen Mary researchers at Whitechapel and Mile End have already been analysing Covid-19 data to explain why east London has some of the highest cases and death rates in the UK and to find out why ethnic groups are more prone.  

The new research has been welcomed by faith leaders. Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum's chair Alan Green said: “East London's population is disproportionally affected by diseases such as diabetes and Covid-19.  
“Research that uses information from its population can help find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat these diseases which is fantastic.” 

Ethnic minorities have twice the risk of developing Coronavirus, researchers confirm. So east London will be one of the first areas in the country to use the methods researchers come up with.  

NHS data analysis now being used to help Barts NHS medical scientists

NHS data analysis now being used to help Barts NHS medical scientists look for cures for deadly diseases - Credit: QMUL

The cash comes from Barts Charity, whose chief executive Fiona Miller Smith said: “The funding brings together some of the best minds to find treatments where none previously existed. Our goal is better understanding data analysis.” 

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Information from NHS medical cases is currently an underused source of data that is now to be studied more closely, but without identifying patients in order to make sure the research conforms to legal and ethical standards under the Data Protection Act.