Swansea University College of Medicine (CoM)

West Wales Organisation for Rigorous Trials in Health (WWORTH)

Since 2001 CoM has developed an accelerated four-year medical degree for graduate students and a distinctive translational approach to medical research spanning the spectrum from basic science to health care delivery, all underpinned by advanced computing facilities and a growing team of information scientists. Since 2007 the focus of our interdisciplinary research programme has been the Institute of Life Science (ILS) – comprising two modern buildings worth more than £100 million, with a third already under construction. ILS is located between the University and Singleton Hospital, one of two major hospitals in Swansea. It is the fruit of partnership between: the Welsh Government, for whom it is the largest investment on any university campus; Swansea University; NHS Wales, mainly through the local University Health Board – Abertawe Bro Morgannwg; IBM; and Siemens. It is the embodiment of the College’s research and impact strategy with the shared vision:

“to benefit human health by advancing medical and allied health sciences through inter-disciplinary research and innovation, and to link those benefits to the economy by encouraging collaboration with a wide range of organisations in a spirit of open innovation”.

Simultaneously there has been vigorous growth in the number and quality of clinical trials. There are distinct trials groups in: Cardiology (Prof Julian Halcox); Diabetes (Prof Steve Bain); Epilepsy (Prof Mark Rees); Gastroenterology (Prof John Williams); Mental Health (Prof Keith Lloyd); Oncology (Prof John Wagstaff); Paediatrics (Prof Steve Allen) and Pre-hospital Emergency Care (Prof Helen Snooks). Together these groups are leading, or making major contributions to, more than 20 multi-centre randomised trials. To underpin this growth, SUCM recruited Ian Russell as Professor of Clinical Trials and Founding Director of WWORTH, the Clinical Trials Unit in CoM. Ian had previously founded or laid foundations for Clinical Trials Units in Newcastle, Aberdeen, Cardiff, York and Bangor.

Since October 2008 CoM has:

  • established WWORTH in partnership with both Health Boards in West Wales – Abertawe Bro Morgannwg centred on Swansea and Hywel Dda centred on Carmarthen;
  • supported WWORTH in developing a portfolio of more than 30 Standard Operating Procedures representing best practice across all three institutions;
  • secured core funding for WWORTH from NISCHR, thus complementing existing core funding to Swansea University for the research groups in arthritis, cancer, cardiology, diabetes, epilepsy, emergency care, mental health, and older people & ageing; &
  • secured core funding for the cluster of research groups working in data sciences – specifically from the Medical Research Council for the Centre for Improving Public Health through Electronic Research (CIPHER), the Economic & Social Research Council for the Centre for Administrative Data Research & Evaluation (CADRE), and NISCHR for the Health Informatics Research Unit (HIRU) and the E-Health Industries Innovation (EHI2) Centre.

To those ends the following three posts within WWORTH are funded by the core grant from NISCHR till 31 March 2015. In April 2014 NISCHR expect WWORTH to apply for an extension till March 2020.