80 per cent of clinical medicine research at University of Plymouth is world class or of international quality

Around 80 per cent of clinical medicine research at Plymouth University has been recognised as world-leading or of international quality with its outputs at the top of the league in the UK in this category, according to the nationwide review of standards across the higher education sector. 

The results from the Research Excellence Framework (REF) recognise the quality of research carried out at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and rank it 13th out of the 31 medical schools listed. The work was graded according to the quality of its research publications, the impact of the work, and the research environment - such as the amount of funding and the number of PhD students in each area.

“Our results for clinical medicine stand testament to our commitment to quality research with real impact on global health and good outcomes for patients. Our mantra is ‘quality, quality, quality’ and this is borne out by our position at the top of the league for outputs in this category.” 

said Professor Raymond Playford, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Medicine at Plymouth University.

He added: 

“As a new medical school we are hugely proud of this achievement, which gives us an impressive and solid basis on which to build still further our portfolio of medical and health research.”

The results are part of a developing medical and health research story at Plymouth University. Since information for the REF was submitted it has attracted over £10 million in research and related commercial services income – double the amount received over the previous period.

Funding has come from a number of sources, including the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research, the National Institutes of Health in the US, and Cancer Research UK.

In the past year research highlights have included: investigations into an alternative to chemotherapy; a potential therapy for Parkinson’s Disease; development of a vaccine for Ebola; identifying and developing a simple saliva test for gum disease; and the development of new classes of antibiotics to fight the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

Confidence in this area of research is great and has resulted in a capital investment of £13 million in new research facilities devoted to medical and health science, which are currently with planners. Associated with this project is a recently-announced grant of £1.2 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England for STEM-related science education.

The past year has also seen Plymouth University recognised for the excellence of its medical research by two major health charities.

In March the University was chosen by Brain Tumour Research to be one of four Research Centre of Excellence, while in September it was chosen to be one of the lead research institutions in the new Alzheimer’s Research UK South West Research Network.

In terms of impact on teaching, Plymouth University has one of the best reputations in the UK for access to medical school, with 78 per cent of its students coming from state schools (the national average is 50 per cent). Each student is exposed to the world-class research identified in the REF.

The REF is the first major review of research standards at UK universities since the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. A total of 154 universities took part, with 1,911 submissions reviewed by expert panels.