Mercer visit 1215

Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer has visited Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (PU PSMD), which sits in his constituency, and has declared the facility 'deeply impressive.'

Mr Mercer met with some of the PU PSMD senior management team, who outlined the remit of the organisation and highlighted notable elements, such as innovative teaching, a commitment to quality, the development of new courses to meet the growing needs of the NHS (such as the training of physician associates, a new class of NHS professional) and investment in research.

The latter included an overview of the new £14.8 million Derriford Research Facility which is currently being constructed adjacent to PU PSMD and Derriford Hospital. The existing laboratories are home to research investigating treatments for a number of important medical conditions affecting patients. These include brain tumours (including via the Plymouth University Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence), Hepatitis C, neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases (including via the Alzheimer’s Research UK South West Network Centre), stroke and cancer.

The new facilities will see scientists from other areas of the University introducing their work to the mix, from the diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome to antibiotic resistance, the use of viral vectors as a way to disseminate vaccines for Ebola and bovine TB, the role of ancient DNA in modern health, genetic influences on post-natal depression, and others.

Mr Mercer was given a tour of the existing laboratories before visiting the neighbouring Derriford Dental Education Facility, one of four in the South West where Plymouth University dental profession students treat NHS patients under the supervision of qualified dental professionals.

Here, Mr Mercer was able to see a clinic and meet patients, students and staff. He also met members of the Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise Community Engagement Team who outlined their work in connecting the dental school to the community and vice versa.

Speaking of his visit, Mr Mercer said: 

“This is a deeply impressive facility and we should be proud that we have it in Plymouth. It is clear that the staff are dedicated to producing excellent health care professionals of the future, and where there is interaction with the community to make that a positive experience for all. I’ve often said that the best thing about Plymouth is its people, and this is reinforced here.”

He added: 

“The new Derriford Research Facility currently under construction will make this part of Plymouth a hub for world-class health research. Its position, adjacent to the existing laboratories and one the largest hospitals in the country, can only result in the city becoming a powerhouse for this sort of research.”

Professor Robert Sneyd, Dean of Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, commented: 

“We have always enjoyed a supportive relationship with our local MPs and having met Johnny I am delighted that this will continue. It was extremely useful to be able to tell him about the great things we are achieving here, as well as to outline some of the challenges we face. It was the ideal opportunity to explain how, across the whole University, we are striving to train excellent health care professionals while at the same time addressing local health care need.”