The Highlands & Islands – A living laboratory
08 June 2012

A necessary change in the provision of healthcare services and products across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is being driven by developing health trends such as ageing populations, the increase of lifestyle related diseases, increasing costs, decreasing healthcare budgets and technology driven generation. With the dispersed population and remote and rural landscape of the region the Highlands and Islands is providing organisations with an ideal test bed for testing and developing innovative healthcare technology. The region has a unique offering enabling organisations to utilise the rurality, superfast broadband, an untapped research population and the opportunity to transfer findings and technology to other areas.

Access to this specialist environment and expertise is provided by the Highland Clinical Research Facility (HCRF), based in the Centre for Health Science, Inverness. It is the fifth clinical research facility in Scotland and provides an environment for high quality clinical research in a purpose built, state of the art building. The facilities comprise research and consulting rooms, a pharmacy and capacity for overnight monitoring.

The HCRF is a collaboration between the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and NHS Highland and enables key research into chronic disease and treatment. The HCRF is ideally situated in close proximity to the NHS diabetes clinic offering significant opportunities for scientists to work more closely with clinical researchers, enabling the development of new therapies and treatments, and speeding up scientific advances into real benefits for patients and new products and services for business. The HCRF provides a wide range of clinical research and health related services to commercial organisations and contract research firms, and is a participant in multicentre and single site trial activities.

The HCRF has academic links with UHI’s Department of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Science and the Centre for Rural Health. The Department includes three major interrelated research groups that are engaged in fundamental aspects of disease development, progression and treatment in the areas of Free Radical Research, Lipidomics and Genetics.

Sandra MacRury, Director of the HCRF, said: “The Highland Clinical Research Facility is a major step forward for clinical research in the Highlands of Scotland. The facility allows an increased capacity for researchers from a variety of backgrounds to conduct a number of different types of research projects and greatly enhances opportunities for people in the Highlands to participate in research. It is a focus for translational medicine and taking new ideas and discoveries from the laboratory into the clinical arena with accelerated benefits to patients.”

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