Windsor Research Unit
The Windsor Research Unit (WRU) in Cambridge is one of the UK’s top performing research units.
It has a successful track record of delivering high quality research and clinical trials to time and target for leading international companies, academic institutions and organisations. The Unit is part of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), one of the top three NHS trusts in the country for mental health research. Our team supports hundreds of studies and helps thousands of volunteers access new treatments and therapies every year.
We offer a comprehensive clinical trials service, supported by first class facilities and staff. Originally specialising in dementia when it opened in 2012, the Unit has grown the team and skills to run research and clinical trials for a diverse range of mental and physical health conditions, neurodegenerative conditions (like Alzheimer's disease), and genetic conditions. Currently, the team is delivering urgent public health research to find effective treatments and vaccines for Covid-19, working with the NHS and National Insitute for Health Research (NIHR).
The WRU is part of the internationally-renowned Cambridge Biomedical Campus with access to state-of-the-art imaging technology and clinical research facilities, supporting some of the world’s leading laboratories. We are uniquely placed to deliver research with care, with regional, national and international partners and work closely with the NIHR Clinical Research Network Eastern to bring new developments in healthcare, technology and treatments to NHS patients.
Dedicated staff with specialist skills
We are proud to employ highly trained, experienced staff who are nationally recognised for their expertise and passion for improving lives through research. The team are dedicated to delivering research and receive regular training on the latest techniques, updated guidelines and standards. They also offer accredited training to build research capacity and capability, running a regular masterclass for Principal Investigators (PIs).
The WRU team includes:
- Clinical research nurses
- Senior research administrator
- Clinical trials lead
- Clinical research practitioners
- Clinical research fellow
- Unit manager
- Research communications manager
- Support from the clinical director and senior consultant lead
The WRU team are highly experienced in various rating scales, multimodal research methods and have been certified by several commercial companies and vendors. All research staff are trained in Good Clinical Practice (GCP) and receive regular updates. Monthly supervisions ensure each member of the team can perform to the highest standards and feels supported and empowered in their role. The WRU clinical director (consultant in old age psychiatry Dr Ben Underwood) is based in an office at the Unit, providing extensive research experience and guidance as a PI for dementia studies.
All research nurses and practitioners are trained in phlebotomy, electrocardiograms (ECGs), vital signs and responding to medical emergencies. They all come from different backgrounds and disciplines, with a broad scope of experience, knowledge and complimentary specialist skills. The Unit works with a multiprofessional team of PIs leading studies across all specialties, who also manage clinical services at CPFT. Many of these health professionals and researchers are world experts in their field. The team is also supported by a dedicated research communications manager and research and development office to support studies and boost recruitment.
The Windsor Research Unit is located at CPFT's Fulbourn Hospital headquarters site with free parking less than ten minutes away from the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. The Unit has been specially adapted to provide a safe, accessible environment for people with dementia and mental health conditions. It complies with all safety regulations to allow volunteers and patients of all ages and conditions to take part in research on an outpatient basis, according to ethically approved protocols. There is a pharmacy on site, with GCP trained pharmacists experienced in delivering CTIMPs (Clinical Trial of an Investigational Medicinal Product). The Unit facilities include:
- A bright and comfortable reception and lounge for research participants.
- A clinical room with all the necessary medical equipment to perform clinical investigations, facilities for venepuncture, ECG monitoring, spirometry machine.
- A sample handling room with a fridge, biological safety cabinet, -20 freezer, -80 freezer and centrifuge. All staff are trained in processing blood and CSF samples.
- Two interview rooms for volunteers, patients and carers.
- Two separate open plan offices.
- Three locked storage rooms.
- Kitchen and specially adapted bathroom facilities with hand rails.
- High speed internet (including wi-fi), telephone and fax access, computer workstations with internet access.
Recruitment and research experience
We have an excellent track record in successful recruitment and retention of research participants, which is a key part of study delivery and focus for the Unit. Patients and volunteers are offered the opportunity to participate in research in their own homes with regular visits from the research nurses and practitioners, as well as visits to the Windsor Research Unit and other clinical facilities. We have quick and easy access to hundreds of thousands of patient records through CPFT’s secure and comprehensive electronic patient database. Our researchers are embedded in CPFT’s clinical teams, which promotes research and boosts referrals to research studies.
Volunteers provide consistently positive feedback about their research experience with the Unit, commenting that it has been a pleasure to take part, they look forward to the visits, and have benefited personally from the research. The Unit's work with Dr Ben Underwood to improve the research experience for patients and volunteers was recognised by the Clinical Research Network Eastern’s Putting Patients First award in 2018.
Driving improvement and innovation
Working with CPFT, WRU also offers a unique opportunity to advance innovation in health informatics, through the Trust’s systems and innovative CRATE research database. This allows clinical data to be anonymised for population health research. CPFT has a successful track record in translating work from the laboratory to patients, delivering the first clinical trials in the country for new therapeutic approaches and exploring the interactions between brain, body and environment.