Academic health sciences collaboration


A collaboration between Scottish universities and health boards, which will harness Scotland's research power and support around 250 research jobs, was today given £10 million from the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Academic Health Sciences Collaboration (SAHSC) will build on the close NHS/academic partnerships which already exist across Scotland with large centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon today agreed to redeploy the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office research funding to support the collaboration which represents a major boost in clinical research capacity.

The SAHSC will:

  • invest in NHS research infrastructure in areas such as scanning capability, tissue banking and research nurse support
  • offer a co-ordinated system for contracting and costing of research across Scotland
  • provide a Scotland wide investment in research related IT capacity

The funding will be consolidated with a further £5 million from CSO currently supporting a range of new clinical research posts. Combined this will secure some 250 posts across Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon said:

"This is an exciting and uniquely Scottish partnership combining the talents of our major medical schools with the rich resources of our national health service. The creation of SAHSC brings together the academic excellence of the universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow with the NHS research expertise in Grampian, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lothian and Tayside Health Boards. This gives us the basis of a world-leading platform to attract funds for patient-oriented research.

"Not only will it act as a catalyst for increased investment and economic development throughout Scotland, but it will embed continuous improvement in the NHS by strengthening the evidence-based culture for beneficial change.

"The funding we have announced today will secure an outstanding research resource across Scotland. This ensures that the SAHSC is founded on a clinical research platform which is second to none."

Professor Sir John Savill, Scotland's Chief Scientist, said:

"The creation of, and investment in, the SAHSC will be a resource for all Scottish Health Boards. Scotland wide research networks are already being developed around these four health boards with CSO funding, and their R&D Directors are actively engaged in forming partnerships with their neighbouring health boards so that all boards and their patients may benefit from this initiative."

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, said:

"Our universities have a key role to play in supporting Scotland's economic recovery and in promoting knowledge exchange. This important development will support both those efforts and will also build on the world class achievements of Scotland's universities, highlighted in the recent Research Assessment Exercise.

"Scotland performs strongly in the area of health research - a key area for growth in Scotland - and this initiative will enable us to continue to improve in this area, while securing key research jobs for our future."

The SAHSC creates a four-Board, four-University partnership to create a Scotland wide platform for patient orientated research. Other Scottish Universities and Health Boards will be involved in the Collaboration through one of the four University Health Board "hubs", creating a Scotland wide research capacity.

The key aims of the SAHSC are:

  • to create a world leading platform to attract research funds from government, charity and commercial sources
  • to facilitate leadership of an evidence based culture of change in the NHS
  • to be an engine for economic development through the generation of high value jobs and exploitation of intellectual property

The SAHSC will operate through a Strategic Oversight Board made up of senior representatives of the eight partner institutions and Scottish Enterprise. There is also a patient representative, and representation from the remaining Health Boards and Universities on the Board. The Board will be chaired by Scotland's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Harry Burns, and will report to the Director-General of the Health Directorates and Chief Executive of the NHS in Scotland, Dr Kevin Woods and the University Principals.

The new posts being created by this investment will be phased in over a three year period. By the end of 2011-12, approximately 250 NHS posts supporting Scottish clinical research will be in place.

The Chief Scientist Office is a Division of the Chief Medical Officer Directorate within the Scottish Government and is responsible for encouraging and supporting research into health and healthcare needs in Scotland. Total CSO funding to support research in the NHS is in excess of £44M per annum. Prof Sir John Savill is Head of the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and is the current Chief Scientist.

The creation of the Scottish Health Sciences Collaboration is not linked to the proposal in England to establish Academic Health Science Centres to progress innovation in the NHS.