The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is collaborating with the University of Bristol (UoB) in the recently announced Blood and Transplant Research Unit (BTRU) that will be based in Bristol. This research unit is one of four nationally, two of which will be based at Cambridge and one each in London and Bristol, funded by the National Institute for Health Research that bring together research at universities with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).
The Bristol BTRU will focus on the development of new red blood cell products to support the transfusion needs of patients with rare blood groups and those with complex and life-limiting conditions.
The UWE Bristol team is led by sociologist Professor Julie Kent from the Centre for Health & Clinical Research and Department of Health & Social Sciences. They will investigate what diverse patient, donor and public groups think about the use of innovative blood cell therapies. Dr Andy Gibson, also from UWE Bristol, will lead the Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) and Public and Patient Engagement (PPE) Strategy for the Unit by convening a Public Advisory Group to work with researchers.
Professor Kent said: “Our work is designed to address one of the key objectives of the NIHR BTRU – ‘to engage with patients and the public to determine acceptability and attitude towards cellular therapies as an alternative to donor derived red cells’. We will be conducting social science research with patients, other groups and stakeholders in order to better understand what they think about the use of red blood cells produced in the laboratory for treatment. It is also important that there is an opportunity for discussion about the social and ethical issues around innovation in this field. The Public Advisory Group will be one way of promoting that discussion together with wider public engagement activities of the BTRU. We are delighted to be collaborating with the scientists and with NHSBT in this project.’
Dr Andy Gibson added: “The work of the unit has the potential to improve the treatment of people with rare blood conditions such as thalassemia and sickle cell. The work that Julie Kent and I are carrying out will help ensure that the work of the Unit addresses the needs and concerns of patients and the public.”
For more information about the project or if you are interested in joining the Public Advisory Group please contact Julie.Kent@uwe.ac.uk.