Dare you enter the Dragons’ Lair?

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Research nurses

Research nurses: South Tees is proud of its commitment to Research and Development

South Tees Hospitals staff are set to take on a fierce panel of dragons in a bid to secure a pot of research funding that could benefit patients across Teesside, North Yorkshire – and NHS trusts further afield.

The Research & Development team, based at the recently launched South Tees Institute of Learning, Research and Innovation (LRI) on the James Cook University hospital site, is pleased to present Dragons’ Lair for the second year running.

Inspired by popular BBC programme Dragons’ Den – where would-be entrepreneurs pitch their new business ideas – the competition sets health professionals the challenge of developing a clinical trial or research idea, in return for up to £30,000 to turn their idea into reality.

Judging is now in process to decide which of the high quality research proposals submitted to the R&D team will go before a formidable – and potentially fierce – panel of Dragons at the LRI, who will decide which researcher will be awarded funds to develop a national research grant application to take their research idea forward.

Jo Cresswell - Assistant Director of Research and DevelopmentJo Cresswell, (right) R&D director, said last year’s Dragons’ Lair was “entertaining, informative and fun” – but she expects this year’s event, in March, to be even better!

She said: “The quality of submissions continues to be high and we can expect a competitive event in March. Each team will present their idea and then be questioned by the Dragons.

“Our Dragons, ably led by Trust Chair, Deborah Jenkins, will leave no stone unturned in considering where to invest their research funding.

“The selected project will receive pump-priming funding to develop a national research grant application.”

Last year's Dragons' Lair winner, PICU consultant anaesthetist Mike Tremlett

Last year’s Dragons’ Lair winner Mike Tremlett

Last year’s winner Mike Tremlett, consultant paediatric anaesthetist at The James Cook University Hospital, believes the funds he secured could ensure children receive appropriate treatment for a condition known as sleep disordered breathing.

He explained some children come into hospital to have their tonsils removed because of the condition, which causes them to snore and block off their breathing during the night – and has been linked to impaired performance at school.

But while 10% of children aged between two and six snore, Dr Tremlett claims it is not possible to say whether this does cause poor academic performance – or whether removing a child’s tonsils will prevent it.

Now, Dr Tremlett is hopeful the funding from Dragons’ Lair will allow him to find the answers.

“In short, are we doing the right treatment to the right group of patients for the right reasons?” he asks.

“It has allowed me to try to undertake a small feasibility study to see how we might answer the question: “Does sleep disordered breathing cause cognitive weakness reversible by tonsillectomy?

“It has provided me with money to recruit a child psychologist for a year to work with me and Dr Anna Weighall to form a research team and given me access to experts to help design a clinical trial.”

Dr Tremlett hopes that in a year’s time, he will be able to report on his findings and what they mean for children in our region and beyond.

The team behind a lifesaving HeRO graft

The team behind a lifesaving HeRO graft

Recent clinical trials and innovations to benefit patients at the trust have included leading edge robotic surgery for prostate cancer patients and the first HeRO (Haemodialysis Reliable Outflow) graft operation in the North East, carried out on 55 year-old dialysis patient Elizabeth Fraser at The James Cook University Hospital.

The lifesaving treatment, to reinforce a vein in her neck that would allow her dialysis to continue, was the last possible course of action for Elizabeth, as her other veins had deteriorated after 15 years of dialysis.

Shannon Barstow, a dancer at Teesside University, also benefited from a trial comparing two different types of treatment for hip impingement – an abnormal shape of the hip.

Dancer Shannon Barstow recently opened the LRI, after benefiting from hip surgery as part of a clinical trial

Dancer Shannon Barstow recently opened the LRI

After developing the hip problem, Shannon, 20, feared her dancing career could be over, but is now recovering following surgery and officially opened the LRI in October.