Surgeon Captain Jason Smith has been confirmed as the Principal Investigator of the Year, as part of research awards jointly run by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network.
Professor Smith, an Honorary Chair of Emergency Medicine at the University of Plymouth, impressed the judging committee with his commitment to clinical research in the field of emergency medicine. In particular, he has played a pivotal role in re-launching a portfolio of research studies in Emergency Medicine following the diversion of resources due to COVID-19.
Jason, who is also a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at University Hospitals Plymouth, said:
“It really is a great honour to receive this award and to see Plymouth recognised in this way. However, I really don’t see it as my award – it is testament to my colleagues and to everyone involved in making it possible. I’m also very grateful to the Research and Development team, as it wouldn’t have been possible without their support.
“Our traditional model of recruitment no longer became feasible when our research nurses were redeployed to provide clinical care and run COVID-19 vaccine studies. It was important to employ a flexible approach to be able to continue to carry out research within the emergency department. We therefore empowered a team of healthcare assistants to be able to deliver one study alongside their clinical duties; we appointed two of our clinical nurses on part-time research secondments and enabled research fellows to act as NIHR Associate Principal Investigators for some other studies.”
Thanks to taking these practical steps, Jason and his team have been able to carry out a number of research studies since the start of the pandemic. These include: the FALCON study, which evaluated different diagnostic tests for COVID-19; PRIEST, which investigated patients with symptoms of COVID-19 upon presentation at the emergency department and RELIEF, a randomised controlled feasibility trial on the use of lidocaine patches in patients with rib fractures to aid initial pain relief.
Eight studies are currently running in the emergency medicine portfolio with four further studies in the process of being set up at the hospital.