A sneak peek into this year’s Annual Research Conference

Published: 24 September 2021 to 31 December 2098

We’re pleased to announce our Annual Research Conference will be going ahead virtually and in person, on November 17th and 18th.

The event is suitable to anyone interested in health research in our region, and you can still register for the event if you haven’t had a chance yet!

The conference will be streamed live if you cannot make it in person and will explore research studies and topics such as COVID-19, mental health, primary care, autism, diabetes, dementia, and much more. It will also provide a chance to hear from those who have taken part in research and how it has changed their lives.

Following the success of our first virtual conferences last year, it is our aim to showcase even more local, national, and international research that our Trust is involved in, as well as the potential for future collaborations and new areas of research, to demonstrate the benefits of research for our community and to encourage more health care professionals to offer opportunities for people to become involved in research studies.

Recently, we have had the pleasure of speaking to two key speakers, Professor Partha Kar OBE and Professor Calum Semple OBE, who have been generous enough to give us a sneak peek into what they will present in November.


Professor Partha Kar OBE

Professor Partha Kar OBE is a Consultant in Diabetes & Endocrinology at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS & National Specialty Advisor for Diabetes with NHS England. He will be speaking in person at the conference about ‘Diabetes- the world of gizmos, tongue-twisters and basics.’

Professor Kar spoke of the challenges that we have all faced since the covid pandemic took a hold of our world, with research on diabetes naturally taking a backseat, as have many others during this time. He further stated that the research community is ‘open-ended’ on diabetes and he is thankful that conversations can be had about different issues. He is also pleased to see research in diabetes picking back up again as we attempt to get back to a ‘new normal’ and is hopeful that more research will be done in coming years.

Professor Kar stated: “We need to look at better care and access for those from a BAME background and consider those from a lower socioeconomic group” in relation to new data which expresses how “although diabetes has been associated with COVID-19-related mortality, the absolute and relative risks for type 1 and type 2 diabetes are unknown.”

Professor Kar reiterated the importance of acknowledging how diabetes is a risk factor for those from poor backgrounds, especially those who may contract COVID-19.

To summarise, the outline of Professor Kar’s talk will be about what research is already out there and looking at the outcomes of these studies. It’s important that we consider not only whether the research has been a success or not, but also that we look at the possibility of being translated into policy to protect those within this demographic.

Professor Kar would also like to take this opportunity to remind people that the NHS has launched new online support for people with diabetes, which can be looked at in further detail here.


Professor Calum Semple OBE

Professor Calum Semple OBE is a Professor of Child Health and Outbreak Medicine and Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.

Professor Semple’s presentation at the conference will be titled ‘The ISARIC WHO Clinical Characterisation Protocol: a case study in being prepared to create a timely understanding of a pandemic.’

Within this, Professor Semple is going to talk about how we position the United Kingdom to be able to conduct research in the face of a pandemic. He also aims to explore the challenges of conducting research during an outbreak and the inevitable delays in seeking research permissions and ethical approval that would hamper a timely response.

When asked to summarise the case study he will explore, Semple stated that the purpose of the protocol is to clinically characterise a severe emerging infection.

Clinical characterisation means describing the who, what and why of a disease. It's who's affected so age, sex, ethnicity, what the disease itself looks like. We must ask ourselves many questions, such as ‘does it cause cough and fever and rapid breathing?’, ‘do some people present with abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting?’, ‘is it people with high blood pressure or asthma or obesity that are at higher risk of illness?’ and so on, to fully understand the inner workings of a new disease.  

Professor Semple indicated that, by asking these questions, we are better equipped to identify risk groups, and how the characterisation of the disease will affect them. And that's what protocol does. This is exceptionally useful for policymakers, as it allows them to understand the risk factors and better protect them through law and guidance.

When asked about the policy used over the last 18 months through the Coronavirus pandemic, such as mask wearing and social distancing, Professor Semple said: “These techniques all work really, really well against all the respiratory viruses. We saw a huge reduction in the usual seasonal admissions of young children who are affected by RSV and Flu into hospital. They virtually disappeared during the course of the pandemic.”

One of Professor Semple’s current case studies is centred around working with children and COVID-19, in which he has over 2000 young people involved, which represents about 40% off all cases. He is also focusing on the vaccine programme, and how this may be rolled out to younger people in the coming weeks, which he thinks is a positive step towards protecting this demographic in the UK.


If you would like to register to attend our Research Conference on 17 and 18 November 2021, to hear Professor Semple and Professor Kar’s presentations in full, amongst many others you can register via our Eventbrite page here.

  • Summary: