The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has announced that it has appointed Miles Witham, Professor of Trials for Older People in the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University and Deputy Theme Lead for Ageing Syndromes in the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) as National Speciality Lead (NSL) for Ageing for the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network (CRN).
In his new position as the National Specialty Lead for Ageing, Miles will be looking to better enable a research environment where more collaborators are trained and equipped to deliver more studies for more older people, using the best that big data and methodological innovation can provide to facilitate participation by as wide a range of older people as possible, in a range of settings that reflect health need and clinical activity. He has been the local Ageing clinical lead for CRN North East North Cumbria for the last year.
Speaking of his appointment, Professor Witham commented: “I’m pleased and excited to take up the role of National Specialty Lead for Ageing. Given the increasing number of older people that our NHS serves, getting high-quality research evidence to underpin clinical care for older people has never been more important. The Ageing CRN plays a key role in delivering clinical studies that the NHS and older patients need, and we need to keep growing the capacity of the network to deliver the types of study that our patients need, whether this be in their own homes, hospitals, clinics, or care homes.”
Professor Witham will hold the role until the end of March 2022.
NIHR Clinical Research Network
The NIHR Clinical Research Network is made up of 15 local networks across England that coordinate and support the delivery of research in the NHS and across the wider health and social care environment. Members are organised into 30 areas of specialty, which bring together communities of clinical practice to provide national networks of research expertise. Professor Witham will be leading the Ageing specialty, which works to ensure that ageing studies receive the right support to be delivered successfully in the NHS.
Improving representation of older people in clinical trials
Miles Witham is an academic geriatrician whose research focuses on improving physical function and quality of life for older people, using a wide range of interventions, including pharmacological agents, nutrition, exercise and strategies of care. As Professor of Trials for Older People he is developing a programme of trials to test interventions targeting sarcopenia and cardiovascular disease, whilst also building capacity across the UK to conduct more trials for older people and to improve the way that we design and run these trials.
Professor Witham works closely with the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, where he is the Deputy Theme Lead for Ageing Syndromes, a cross-cutting research area that builds on Newcastle’s international reputation for basic science, epidemiological and clinical ageing research. This involves working collaboratively with BRC colleagues working in the fields of dementia, liver disease, musculoskeletal disease, neuromuscular disease and skin and oral disease in order to advance the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of ageing syndromes such as sarcopenia, frailty and multimorbidity.