Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research

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What does it mean to secure the renewal?

Monica Fletcher OBE, Knowledge Exchange Lead at the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research, reflects on the impact of securing a further five years of funding for the Centre.

Having been a member of the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research since the original application was developed, it is unbelievable that we have already reached the segue between our first five years and the next five.

There are 5.4 million people in the UK currently receiving treatment for asthma. With the vision of our funders Asthma UK, we continue to work together to make a real difference to the lives of those affected by asthma.

The power of collaboration

Bringing together clinical researchers from 17 centres from around the UK and creating a vibrant and engaged Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) group was no easy task. Yes, it certainly helped that we shared one common research interest to improve the lives of people living with asthma, but without the infrastructure and leadership and the vision to bring us together, we would not have accomplished what we set out to in five years. The sum was stronger than the individual parts.

Measuring the success of the Centre though our outputs, such as publications, abstracts and successful further grant funding, are obvious key tangibles of which we are very proud. However, how can you measure the power of our collaborations? These have led to remarkable and stimulating academic and clinical discussions, improving and shaping our research.

Inspiring researchers of the future

Of equal importance are the professional relationships that have been developed by being a part of the Centre. We have come to recognise that we can achieve far more by being agile in our thinking, stretching ourselves and by harnessing the power of our human potential. These partnerships are vital, as we learn and grow together.

This is probably of greatest importance for our PhD students, because inspiring young researchers to enter the world of applied asthma research must be one of the most valuable things that we can do. Developing them for the future and producing outputs that will make a real difference to clinical care and management for many years to come. So, we are delighted to see they have become a key priority for future funding.

Stimulating change

Cesar Chavez, the civil rights activist, once said:

“When social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”

The Centre plans to continue to grow through this next phase of funding; harnessing and developing passionate individuals driven to make a real difference through applied research and the dissemination of such.

Our ‘social movement’ is simple. It is to ensure that everyone with asthma has an equal opportunity to live a full and active live regardless of where they live in the UK and their personal circumstances. Then our dream will be realised. Together we define our bigger purpose and win the long game and the sense of growing for the future. As we move forward, we wish to reach out proactively to bring in new partners, funders and strengthen our patient voice throughout, with our active and engaging PPI group.

Success is the consequence of our efforts today and in the future. Thanks to Asthma UK for their continued support.

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Originally pubished 12 March 2019