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New heart research facility opens its doors

By Published November 21, 2023

RESEARCH teams officially unveiled a new home for heart research at The James Cook University Hospital today (Friday 17 November). 

The South Cleveland Heart Fund Cardiovascular Clinical Research Facility has been created thanks to a joint “Hearts and Minds” appeal with Our Hospitals Charity which raised more than £650,000.     

Existing space at the Middlesbrough hospital has been transformed into a leading-edge research facility featuring a dedicated clinical area for patients undergoing research trials as well as a reception, waiting area and modern office space. 

Professor Enoch Akowuah, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon and co-director of the Academic Cardiovascular Unit (ACU), which will be based in the new facility, said: “This is an incredible opportunity to expand our ability to offer research opportunities to our patients.  

“It’s hard to believe that this is the first time such a facility has existed in the Tees Valley, given the huge burden of cardiovascular disease in this region.  

“We are certain that this facility will help improve the quality of care our patients receive and also allow them the opportunity to take part in the latest groundbreaking research in the cardiovascular field.” 

Rebecca Maier, head of the ACU said: “This is such an exciting time to be involved in cardiovascular research in the region, and we are thankful to the generous donations that have enabled the facility to be built.  

“Being able to co-locate our teams will greatly enhance the offer to patients now and in the future, ultimately improving their care. We also hope that our research will help patients beyond the region, and cement our position as a national and international centre of excellence.” 

Dr David Austin, consultant cardiologist and co-director of the ACU added: “We are a growing team, and this modern facility sets us up for the future. The facility allows us to design, manage and deliver research in an area that is right next to our patients.  

“By integrating research with our clinical service we will be able to accomplish even more.  We are grateful to everyone who has made this project possible.” 

The new facility is named to honour the contribution of South Cleveland Heart Fund which has raised more than £3.5million to support the heart unit over the last 28 years. 

Adrian Davies, retired founding cardiologist and chair of South Cleveland Heart Fund, said: “This new facility now forms the capstone of our excellent heart unit which is celebrating its 30th anniversary year, further enhancing its reputation as one of the very best.” 

Lisa Meehan of Our Hospitals Charity added: “This fantastic research unit will help so many of our loved ones and it would not have been possible without the generosity of our incredible fundraisers – a huge thank you to everyone who has helped us create this new home for heart research on Teesside.” 

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