Last Thursday a new state-of-the-art military trauma and microbiology research centre was officially opened at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Centre for Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology will bring together trauma surgeons, scientists, trainees and academics from both military and civilian fields in an attempt to share medical expertise and research.
The Institute, the first of its kind in the world, is a £20m collaboration between the NIHR, Ministry of Defence, University Hospitals Birmingham and the University of Birmingham, in which the University is investing £5m over five years.
It is hoped that the ground-breaking research centre will enable military medical techniques employed on the battlefield to be used on NHS patients, boosting the survival rates of the 20,000 civilians who suffer serious trauma injuries every year, such as car or motorbike crashes.
Military surgeons have thus established a reputation for pioneering trauma care, with some military techniques having already been adopted by the NHS for civilian purposes, and it is hoped that expertise in the areas of resuscitation, surgical care after severe injury and fighting wound infections can be employed within a civilian context.
Professor Lawrence Young, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences, said that the new Institute will provide 'an unrivalled research environment to improve the treatment of military and civilian trauma patients', with one example being the application of 'the latest microbiological and immunological techniques to improve the understanding, diagnosis and management of trauma-related infection'.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital already has strong ties to the MOD as the hospital treats all injured UK military personnel returning from Afghanistan.
The University of Birmingham will have a more direct role to play regarding the field of microbiology research at the Institute, which will be supported by the University's high-throughput sequencing capability (a method of scientific experimentation especially used in drug recovery) which has the potential to replace common laboratory methods and provide an exciting new insight into the patterns and causes of wound infections.
The high-throughput sequencing capabilities will also be complemented by the University's world-leading expertise in clinical trials.
Yasmine Surendramohan, a first year medical student, said: 'The cutting-edge research that will result from this collaboration can only be of benefit to medical students at the University.
'It's so important for students to have access to this kind of research, as we are the future doctors who will hopefully be able to benefit from these new research methods and techniques.'