Stars of Research

Stars of Research aims to shine a spotlight on the many projects at the hospital that are looking to find new treatments and advances in patient care.
There are currently more than 300 research projects at NNUH covering many areas of medicine and more than 3,500 patients took part in clinical trials at the Trust last year.
Stars of Research will focus on a different research study every month and will be shared on the Trust’s social media and website using #StarsofResearch hashtag. To nominate a Star of Research, email

Exploring the link between poor diet and post-stroke falls

UEA registered dietitian & Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology Professor Ailsa Welch, UEA research physiotherapist Dr Kath Mares, NNUH stroke consultant Dr Kneale Metcalf, UEA research dietitian Dr Lee Hooper, NNUH dietitians Emma Lines, Kris Howell, Eliza Tassone, Rachael Checkland, Amanda Branford

A research study has been launched by dietitians at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and University of East Anglia that aims to help reduce the number of falls for patients recovering from a stroke.

The NNUH Research Capability Fund (RCF) has awarded £12,500 for a year-long project set up by dietitian Eliza Tassone to examine whether patients who suffer a stroke are more likely to have a subsequent fall when their nutritional status is poor.


The team at NNUH running the RECOVERY study

We are proud to be involved in RECOVERY, which is a national study that is testing existing drugs to see if they are effective in treating Covid-19.

Using a cannabis-based medicine on NICU

Heidi Standley, clinical nurse, Dr Radu Clapuci and Karen Few, NICU Research Nurse

The NNUH has enrolled the world’s very first two babies onto this randomised study, which is funded and sponsored by GW Pharmaceuticals and is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Researchers say this world-first at NNUH is the first step that could one day lead to a cannabis-derived medicine being used routinely in neonatal care to help babies at risk of seizures and brain injury. This study is looking to see if the medicine is safe and effective in lessening the degree of brain injury for babies with Neonatal Hypoxic-ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE).

Boostin the gut health of premature babies

Boosting the milk of premature babies with healthy bacteria may have helped halve the number of serious gut problems and infections, according to new research led by NNUH.

Researchers at NNUH, Quadram Institute and University of East Anglia (UEA) reviewed the outcomes of almost 1,000 very premature babies who were admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) over a 10 year period.


David Anstee who is taking part in the MUK9 cancer trial

NNUH has recruited the highest number of patients onto this nationwide research study, which is taking place across 40 hospitals and involves 472 patients.

MUK9 is using state-of-the-art genetic profiling and a novel drug regime that is tailored to an individual’s genetic subtype to treat high-risk bone marrow cancer.


Patients with chronic hand eczema have been taking part in a research study at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) to help establish the most effective treatment for their condition.

The hospital is one of the top recruiters in the country to the ALPHA trial, which is testing the effectiveness of two common treatments for hand eczema.

Twenty patients at NNUH have so far joined the research study, which is being co-ordinated by the Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research, and involves participants having their hands exposed to ultra violet light or taking the drug Alitretinoin.

Norfolk ADaPt

The Norfolk Accumulation of Dietary Bioactives and Prostate Cancer (ADaPt) study has been launched by researchers at Quadram Institute Bioscience (QIB) and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

The study, which will take place at the NNUH-run Clinical Research Facility at the Quadram Institute, will involve 40 patients who are due to receive a biopsy for suspected or previously diagnosed prostate cancer.

The new trial is investigating the relationship between ingestion of the bioactive compounds from broccoli and garlic and prostate cancer.

Researchers at QIB and NNUH aim to expand our understanding of how consuming two different commercially available food supplements can improve prostate health.

The Broccoli In Osteoarthritis (BRIO) trial

Researchers at the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have launched a trial to see whether eating broccoli could help with osteoarthritis.
They will investigate a compound called sulforaphane, which is released when eating cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage, and particularly broccoli.
They are looking for people over 50 with knee osteoarthritis, who are in pain, and of course – who like broccoli.
The Broccoli In Osteoarthritis (BRIO) trial will investigate whether a broccoli-rich diet improves pain and physical function in osteoarthritis.
Researchers will compare the effects of eating broccoli soup with a soup, which doesn’t contain broccoli, but looks and tastes the same. Patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis will be randomly assigned to either the broccoli or the control soup and will eat this with a meal on four days per week for three months. The team will measure pain and physical function at the start of the trial, at six weeks and at 12 weeks and assess any changes.


Lewis Weatherburn and Helena Daniell from the NNUH physiotherapy team

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) has become the first in the country to enrol patients on to the PEP-TALK trial, which aims to help patients to be more active following surgery and improve quality of life.

Physiotherapists at the NNUH have joined the new research study to provide more support to patients who have received hip or knee replacements. The hospital has signed up the first three patients to the PEP-TALK trial, which is being coordinated by the University of Oxford.

More than 206,000 hip and knee replacements were carried out in the UK last year. However, many patients are missing out on the health benefits that joint replacement can offer because they are no more active than before their operation, which is what the trial aims to address.


Luisa Lyons and Louise Coke who are working on the FROSTTIE study at NNUH

The biggest research project into the treatment of tongue-tie has begun with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) at the forefront of a national study.

The Trust has become the first in the country to join the FROSTTIE clinical trial to help babies with breastfeeding difficulties.

Up to 11% of newborn babies can have tongue-tie, which can affect their ability to breastfeed.

Staff at the NNUH have enrolled the first five babies to the national trial, which aims to find out if skilled support for breastfeeding on its own, or together with a minor snip (frenotomy), helps mothers and their babies to breastfeed.


Karen Few and Raducu Clapuci who are working on the NeoCLEAR trial

A research study to help improve care for poorly babies has begun at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at NNUH.

The hospital has become the first in the East of England to sign-up to the NeoCLEAR trial, which aims to improve the treatment of babies with suspected infections or neurological conditions.

The first patients at NNUH have taken part in the study – following consent from their parents – which is investigating the best techniques to carry out a successful lumbar puncture procedure.

Sunshine study

The dermatology research team

A research study to help patients with a painful skin condition has begun after the NNUH enrolled the first volunteer to an international project.

The dermatology research team at the hospital achieved a world-first after becoming the first to sign-up a patient to the Sunshine study.

The clinical trial, which is sponsored by Novartis and supported by the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research), is being run across 33 countries to help patients with a debilitating and recurring skin condition.

Patients living with Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) require constant management to help ease their symptoms and often need surgery.

LuCID – NNUH joins biopsy breathalyser trial

Eleanor Mishra and Julie Cook who are supporting the LuCID trial at NNUH

Eleanor Mishra, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, said two to four patients a week at NNUH have been volunteering to take part in the study.
“A lot of lung cancers are diagnosed late and LuCID is looking at early detection. Patients with suspected lung cancer have the option of taking part in the trial, which measures volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in exhaled breath.
It takes 10 minutes to get a sample through the mask, which is done at the same time as their hospital appointment, and most patients are very happy to be involved as they want to help other patients in the future.”

DANTE – skin cancer study

Adele Cooper and Jenny Nobes

The Oncology Team at NNUH has begun the DANTE clinical trial to help patients who are receiving immunotherapy to treat inoperable melanoma.

While immunotherapy appears to be most effective in the first year, some patients with skin cancer have received the treatment for more than two years.

The new trial, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will find out whether stopping immunotherapy after a year is as effective at controlling the cancer as
treatments over a longer period.

The CAVA device

The CAVA team of Jacob Newman, John Phillips and Stephen Cox

Principal Investigator John Phillips, who is a Consultant Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon at NNUH, said:
“Once fully developed and tested through NNUH sponsored trials, it is hoped that one day the device will be made available at the point of initial referral to a doctor or nurse to avoid delay in diagnosis and to ensure cost-effective use of precious NHS resources.
He said: “Dizziness can be caused by a problem with the inner ear, but dizziness can also be caused be a whole host of conditions, including heart and circulatory conditions, neurological conditions, metabolic conditions (such as diabetes) and even anxiety.
As such it can often be very hard to identify the exact cause of sporadic attacks of dizziness in many patients. Currently, our CAVA device is entirely unique, and provides us with a special opportunity to gain insight into the workings of the ears and brain. As a home-grown device trial, this is the first trial of this kind that NNUH has ever sponsored.”

ARCTIC trial

Louise and Dan Davies with Paul Clarke and Amy Nichols.

Prof Paul Clarke, Consultant Neonatologist, said:
“We do a lot of research here to try to keep at the forefront of neonatal care. Everything we are doing with our research involving babies is trying to work out what is better for babies and what treatments may help them to survive as healthily as possible.
We can only move forward if we do research. And we are really grateful to all the parents who generously allow their babies to participate in these important research studies. Currently there are ten clinical research studies underway at NNUH aiming to advance neonatal care.”

STAR study

The IRay machine was launched at NNUH in May

“The impact has been huge. We are the only Trust in the East of England to have the IRay
machine to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and patients had to travel down to London before.
It is going well, recruitment is increasing and is helping to make a big impact on the national study to ensure it is successful. More sites in our region are also looking to deliver the study, which will mean that more patients will be able to take part.”
AMD affects the central vision and patients affected are desperate to hold on to their
vision. It affects everything they do and how they enjoy life.”

Beth Gibson, Consultant Obstetrician

“I joined NNUH as a senior registrar in 2016 and became a consultant in August. I was the first registrar at the hospital to become a Principal Investigator (PI).
There is a perception that it is not easy to do research into pregnancy.
However, it is necessary. This is a young, motivated group of patients and they are quite keen to be involved and keen to help. All women should have the opportunity to take part in research and many feel satisfied taking part.
It is important and the benefit of being involved in research is that it really keeps you up to date and you know that you are giving people the best possible evidence.”