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What you need to know about the NIHR’s research networks

The UK government is creating and funding networks designed to encourage researchers and NHS managers to work more closely with each other. Adam Smith explains how new and existing networks fit together.

PowerPoint presentations from the National Institute for Health Research often include flow charts that illustrate the journey from scientific research to clinical application.

At one end of such a chart are what are called Academic Health Science Centres, such as Imperial College London’s partnership with its local NHS Trust. These are focused on research that has the potential to be translated into clinical practice. At the other end—at the point of healthcare delivery—are the Academic Health Science Networks. These nascent partnerships between healthcare providers, commissioners and universities will not do research, just delivery. The Department of Health is planning to “designate” 15 of them across the UK by the spring.

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