Letters Phase I studies

Phase I studies: the role of publicly funded academic-healthcare partnerships

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h3889 (Published 22 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h3889
  1. Nathan J Brendish, clinical research fellow1,
  2. Diane F Gbesemete, clinical research fellow1,
  3. Hans de Graaf, clinical research fellow1,
  4. Christopher J Edwards, director1,
  5. Saul N Faust, director1
  1. 1Southampton National Institute for Health Research Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK
  1. nathan.brendish{at}uhs.nhs.uk

Emanuel and colleagues’ meta-analysis found that phase I studies are very safe.1 However, the accompanying editorial mentioned that phase I studies are a “secret realm” and that “most studies are conducted outside academic medical centres at private facilities run by pharmaceutical companies or contract research organisations.”2

After a major safety problem at a commercial phase I facility in 2006,3 the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) introduced an accreditation scheme to enhance phase I safety standards in the UK. There are now four publicly funded phase I accredited clinical research facilities in the UK that have been open to non-commercial facilities since 2013. These include one university-hospital partnership (the Southampton National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility) funded by the National Institute for Health Research. This provides an environment for early phase studies within the heart of an acute NHS hospital along with academic input from local university investigators. Phase I studies in patient populations and healthy volunteers are a crucial part of drug development. The UK Department of Health NIHR experimental medicine infrastructure has created a setting that delivers industry and publicly funded phase I trials while allowing recruitment from the entire UK population.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h3889


  • Competing interests: NJB, HdG, and DFG are clinical research fellows and CJE and SNF the directors of the Southampton NIHR Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility.


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