Department of Health and Social Care
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Application process opens for Academic Health Science Centre designation

Application process opens for Academic Health Science Centre designation

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by COI News Distribution Service. 4 December 2008

The process to select the organisations that will be designated as Academic Health Science Centres (AHSC) has formally opened today. At the same time it has been confirmed that Sir Ian Kennedy has been formally appointed to chair the international panel which will make a recommendation to Secretary of State about which partnerships should be awarded AHSC status.

The NHS Next Stage Review announced the Government's commitment to fostering AHSCs in England. The designation process will allow the Government to identify the University and NHS partnerships best able to realise the synergies between research, education and health services to deliver better patient care.

The international panel chaired by Sir Ian Kennedy will offer a "peer review" of the bids for designation and will identify the organisations best placed to compete alongside leading AHSCs elsewhere in the world, such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the Karolinska Institute. Applicants will need to demonstrate excellence in research, education and patient care. They will also need to present a compelling vision for their partnership, setting out how they plan to take new discoveries and promote their application in the NHS and across the world. AHSCs aim to improve patient care speeding up the translational benefits of research - taking it "from bench to bedside and back again". AHSCs will also generate economic growth through spin-offs and industry investment.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said:

"Academic Health Science Centres will make an important contribution to improving the quality of care patients receive in this country and globally. They form an important part of our drive to foster innovation and create a pioneering NHS.

"Sir Ian Kennedy will make an excellent chair for the international panel. He has a strong understanding of the University and healthcare sectors in England, and is a tireless champion for patients."

Sir Ian Kennedy said:

"It's hard to overstate the importance of translational research and the impact that this can have on the care of patients. I have a particular interest in the benefits that Academic Health Science Centre designation can bring to patients across the NHS.

"I look forward to working with fellow panellists to identify the partnerships in England that are best placed to flourish as Academic Health Science Centres."

Notes to editors

1. For further information please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.

2. The NHS Next Stage Review announced the government's intention to foster the development of AHSCs. The Review announced that the Department would establish an international panel of experts to award AHSC status to a small number of partnerships with the appropriate concentration of expertise and excellence to be able to compete internationally.

3. Professor Sir Ian Kennedy is Chairman of the Healthcare Commission. He was also recently Chair of the Nuffield Council of Bioethics. Sir Ian chaired the public inquiry into children's heart surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (1998-2001). He is a member of the Ministry of Defence's advisory committee on medical countermeasures, a member of the working group on quality in Lord D'Arzi's review of the NHS, and a member of the National Patient Safety Forum.

4. Sir Ian Kennedy replaces Sir Alan Langlands as chair of the international panel. Sir Alan Langlands withdrew from the panel following his appointment as Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on 20 November 2008.

5. Application forms for AHSC designation can be found on the AHSC pages of the Next Stage Review website ( The international panel will draw up a short-list and invite short-listed applicants to interview in London between 2-4 March 2009.

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