HRA Latest - 28 January 2021

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NHS Health Research Authority

HRA Latest – 28 January 2021

Welcome to HRA Latest! 

In my last update as Chief Executive of the HRA, I’m pleased to be able to share this month’s updates for all those working or involved in health and social care research.

There’s news about the launch event of our Public Involvement in a Pandemic report and a blog from our Head of Data and AI Policy on what we're doing to improve AI regulation. You can read more on this, and all of our stories, below. 

Don’t forget, for regular updates and the latest news, you can follow us on Twitter @HRA_Latest. 

Teresa Allen, Chief Executive

Teresa Allen, HRA Chief Executive

Goodbye and thank you – we have achieved a lot together

'We’ve achieved so much together over the last four and a half years and couldn’t have done it without the engagement and feedback we’ve had from a whole range of stakeholders and of course our amazing volunteer members.'

Teresa Allen shares her last blog as Chief Executive of the HRA, including reflections on her career and achievements during her time at the HRA. 

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Public involvement in a pandemic

Earlier this month we launched Public Involvement in a Pandemic, our report into the work of the UK COVID-19 public involvement matching service.

Set up to tackle the drop off in public involvement in urgent public health studies set up quickly at the start of the pandemic, the matching service, an HRA collaboration with partner organisations from the NHS, university, and charity sectors, allowed researchers to access public involvement support if they did not have existing suitable public involvement connections.

Six months on, the low level of public involvement in COVID-19 research recovered to – and exceeded – the normal level of public involvement in all approval applications. We are exceptionally proud of this work.

If you missed our launch event you can watch it online on our YouTube channel. The full report is available on our website, and we’ve just published panel responses to the top five questions received about the project. If you’d like to hear more about how this work develops in the future, email

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What's the HRA doing to improve AI regulation?

Data driven technologies and AI could produce significant patient benefits. We're working to improve the regulation of these technologies, by making sure that they are safe and effective and that patient data is protected during their development.

As part of this work, we've established a new data and AI policy team to focus on the issues these technologies raise. Elizabeth Bohm, Head of Data and AI Policy, has written a blog about this programme of work and the developments the team are working on. 

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More praise for our fast-track pilot

Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation, has written a blog about our new pilot to fast-track the vital ethics review stage of clinical trials approval. In it he praises the HRA for ‘learning fast from the lessons of COVID-19 and listening hard to the needs of the research community’.

The pilot is filling up fast - but we still have some places for March. You can find out more about it and see the full eligibility criteria on our fast-track research ethics review web-page.

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Good practice in student research

Over 100 course leaders attended our Exploring Good Practice in Student Research workshop yesterday.

The workshop was a chance to share best practice about how to support students to gain learning and experience of research in the light of the decision by the HRA and devolved administrations to stop applications for individual undergraduate and master’s student projects until further notice, while the NHS prioritises the urgent COVID-19 studies.

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HRA Now for researchers and R&D professionals

We’re launching HRA Now - a new way to share the changes that researchers and R&D professionals need to know about.

HRA Now will bring you important operational updates from the HRA – including changes to guidance or processes which might affect you.

You’ll receive these updates as and when they happen – making sure you’re always up to date. We’re already offering this service to some groups and are making it easier to read, and available to all.

HRA Latest will continue to bring you a monthly round up of everything going on at the HRA.

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Podcast series title image

New podcast series looks at innovation in trial design and study delivery during the COVID pandemic

A new podcast series which explores the management and delivery of innovative design trials during the COVID-19 pandemic has been launched by the Health Research Authority and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The first podcast feature Emma Lowe, Acting Head of Research Policy at the Department of Health and Social Care, speaking about the innovation in delivery of research studies during the COVID pandemic.

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