Health research enabled by partnership between the University of Leicester and both the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust has been recognised among the best in the UK.

Clinical Medicine research led by University of Leicester academics is ranked joint 2nd in the Times Higher Education (THE)’s analysis of the national Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, with work in Sports and Exercise Science also in the UK’s top two.

The REF – the first since 2014 – is published by Research England and assesses the quality and impact of universities’ research, and acknowledges the far-reaching work led at Leicester.

95% of Leicester’s Clinical Medicine research, including work in cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, kidney and respiratory diseases, was classed as ‘world-leading’ (4*) or ‘internationally excellent’ (3*).

100% of research in Sports and Exercise Science, which encompasses cutting-edge work in diabetes, chronic kidney disease and respiratory diseases undertaken at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), was assessed as ‘world-leading’ (4*) or ‘internationally excellent’ (3*).

Performance in both areas contributed to the University’s best-ever result in a national research assessment exercise, and comes in addition to international recognition for Leicester’s Clinical Medicine research in the prestigious Shanghai World Rankings.

Professor Thompson Robinson is Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Life Sciences at the University of Leicester, and one of the Leicester researchers who contributed to the University’s REF submission. His research, studying acute treatments for stroke patients, was recognised as ‘world-leading’. He said:

“Seeing Leicester-led research recognised among the very best in the UK is credit to the tireless work of all the clinicians, researchers, technicians and members of the wider research community who are transforming lives.

“The REF results have a far-reaching impact on research funding for the work undertaken by Leicester experts, and to see health research acknowledged in this way will help pave the way for future medical breakthroughs.”

Andrew Furlong, Medical Director at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said:

“This is fabulous news for the University of Leicester and also for our patients. Leicester’s Hospitals have a very strong research and training partnership with the University of Leicester which has gone from strength to strength.

“95% of research undertaken within Clinical Medicine at the University was considered to be world-leading or internationally recognised and many of these clinical researchers are working in the hospitals that serve our communities.

“This means our patients have opportunities to access cutting edge medical care and for people entering the medical profession it shows Leicester is a great place to work and develop your career as a clinical researcher.”

Melanie Davies, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester and Director of the Leicester NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, said:

“Our Biomedical Research Centre is focused on delivering world-class clinical research, hosting experts from the University of Leicester, Leicester’s Hospitals and Loughborough University in the fields of cardiovascular and respiratory medicine, type 2 diabetes and lifestyle-related metabolic conditions.

“The outcomes of the REF provide external affirmation that Leicester is a centre of excellence that produces high-quality, impactful clinical research and in sports and exercise science on both the national and international stage that translate into benefits for patients. I am proud of the contributions of the BRC to this excellent result.”

Nigel Brunskill, Professor of Renal Medicine at the University of Leicester, Director of the NIHR Leicester Clinical Research Facility and Director of Research and Innovation at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, added:

“This fantastic result illustrates the close collaborative working between researchers at the University of Leicester and the NHS in Leicestershire. Clinical Medicine research in Leicester is fully integrated with clinical care for patients. This make it directly relevant to patients and results in the world leading advances in treatments that have been recognised by the REF panel.”

Cathy Ellis, Chair of Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) and a member of the University’s Council, added:

“LPT is a proud research active Trust. We value this collaboration with the University, UHL and primary care, which connects our organisations at many levels through research and teaching students, to develop world-leading research in areas such as stroke, cardiovascular medicine and more. Research makes a huge difference to our local population across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and we look forward to building on the success we’ve already achieved together.

In addition to its long-standing partnership with Leicester’s Hospitals, the University expanded the reach of its health work with the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group, announced in 2021, as well as the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust and regional charity LOROS.