The Swansea Trials Unit (STU) is a registered trials unit of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration Network. It receives core funding from Health and Care Research Wales and has close collaborative links with other “infrastructure” units funded by the Welsh Government including the Prime Centre Wales, the Diabetes Research Unit Cymru (DRUC) and SAIL.

Image Feature of the Month - April 2016

STU has a number of disease specific work areas of interest where we have expertise and experience including pre-hospital care, surgical trials, e-trials methodology, gastroenterology and mental health, amongst other things.  One area that STU is looking to establish more of a presence is in the field of diabetes along with colleagues from DRUC. 

STU’s leadership includes the Director, Professor Greg Fegan and Deputy Director, Professor Hayley Hutchings who receive strategic advice from long-established Swansea University trialist and STU member, Professor Helen Snooks. Helen was STU’s Interim Director during 2014-15.  Dr Gail Holland is the Unit Manager for STU. 

Professor Fegan holds post-graduate degrees in Epidemiology (PhD) and Information Systems Engineering (MSc) and was, prior to his arrival in Swansea in December 2015, employed by the University of Oxford as the Head of Statistics at the Wellcome Trust Funded Major Overseas Programme in Kilifi, Kenya.  Greg comes to STU after more than a decade of working and living in the tropics mostly on infectious diseases of children. He is keen to rapidly expand his knowledge of the adverse health issues affecting the Welsh and UK population that the trials units’ work is aimed at helping to alleviate by the production of rigorous evidence of what does and doesn’t work. 

STU – Swansea Trials Unit image Professor Hutchings is one of the newest Professors in the Medical School and has worked at Swansea University for over 20 years. Hayley was one of the main authors, in conjunction with Helen Snooks, of the successful core grant submission in 2015 to Health and Care Research Wales.   Hayley supervises numerous PhD students across the University and has a specific research interest in patient reported outcome measures.  She is also the Director of the STU linked Research Design and Conduct Service (RDCS) whose purpose is to assist NHS based researchers to submit fundable grant applications.  The RDCS team includes Dr Claire O’Neill a recent “convert” from Cardiff University and is often a first point of contact for potential new researchers in their relationship with STU or other trials units that may be a better fit for a particular piece of work.      

The STU team is composed of professionals in the various areas including statistics, trial management, data management, quality assurance and information systems.  Our statisticians include Associate Professor Alan Watkins and Dr Saiful Islam; trial managers include Drs Anne Seagrove, Kym Thorne and Julie Peconi. Our QA and trials governance expertise is led by Dr Gail Holland whilst data management and information systems skills are provided by Nadim Bashir and Mihaela Barbu respectively.  Ashra Khanom provides qualitative research expertise and STU is most ably supported by the administrative skills of Claire Evans and Vicky Davies.

Whilst wishing to be an active academic producer of new knowledge in its own right, STU recognises the need to also and maybe, primarily, act as a facilitator of other health and social care academics to operationalise their research ideas into do-able projects.  To this end STU looks to partner with others at the earliest phases of new research ideas that may end up with an intervention trial as part of the work needed to demonstrate efficacy or effectiveness.   We have the skills to assist other researchers with the planning, bid preparations for funding, running of and reporting of studies.  We have skills in a widely used, industry-standard regulatory compliant, clinical trials data management system which, amongst other things, allows for multi-centre clinical trials data collection.   We are also looking to shortly implement a software system aimed at lighter touch clinical studies that do not require expert IT knowledge on the part of the investigators. This should hopefully enable less experienced or new researchers working on smaller projects with the attendant smaller available funds to start to conduct research that could lead to larger projects. Furthermore we are looking to deploy a quality assurance software system that should assist STU members and collaborators with maintaining compliance with STU's standard operating procedures which are currently undergoing review.    STU is also in the process of sharpening up its web presence to provide more detailed and timely information for its partners, potential partners, stakeholders and the general public at http://stu.swan.ac.uk.   

If you wish to have more information about who we are, what we do and how we can possibly work together then please drop us a line at stu@swansea.ac.uk or give us a call on 01792 606545.