A multi-million pound contract to coordinate medical research across the East of England was celebrated near Norwich.

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Researchers from across the region met today for the official launch of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network: Eastern.

The network, coordinated by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, is responsible for £19m of funding a year for the next five years to support clinical research across the region.

The N&N was named as one of just 15 institutions in a national research network last year, beating a rival bid from hospitals in Cambridge.

The network brings together local hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and other healthcare providers from across the region, to collaborate in conducting high quality clinical research studies that could lead to better treatments for NHS patients.

Last year, more than 630,000 patients took part in clinical research studies, but the new network aims to increase that number.

The official launch was held at the new Centrum building on Norwich Research Park.

Anna Dugdale, chief executive of the N&N, said: “We were delighted to have been selected to host the NIHR Clinical Research Network across the region. When surveyed, 82pc of the public replied that they wanted the opportunity to be involved in research. The aim of the network is to respond to that by enabling clinical teams across the network to increase the number of patients who have access to clinical trials giving patients across the region access to cutting edge clinical care.”

Jesus Perez, lead clinical director of CRN: Eastern, added: “The network covers the whole region, and there is a great deal of determination and drive from all of us to capitalise on the benefits this presents for patients.”

For further information about the clinical research network, visit www.crn.nihr.ac.uk

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