Skip to main content

28 June 2023

New research platform set to transform treatment of traumatic brain injury in the UK

A £9.5m research platform announced by the Medical Research Council (MRC) today is set to transform the way survivors of traumatic brain injury are diagnosed and treated in the UK.

Warhol Brain v3

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a leading cause of death and disability in people under 40 in the UK and can cause a range of serious and lifelong health issues for people who survive, including dementia, epilepsy and poor mental health.

Until now, data collected by individual research projects investigating TBI has rarely been used outside the original study, even though it provides a potentially rich resource for understanding TBI and advancing its clinical care. This lack of coordinated use of data has slowed progress in treating and caring for people experiencing TBI.

To address this, the MRC, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), the Ministry of Defence and Alzheimer’s Research UK are jointly funding this initiative to establish a UK-wide research platform, TBI-REPORTER, which will be led by the University of Cambridge.

TBI-REPORTER will bring together leading experts from across the UK to enable research into TBI, including concussion, and across the lifespan from children to older ages. It will also support research in previously under studied populations, including prisoners, homeless people and victims of domestic violence.

To do this, TBI-REPORTER will collaborate with Health Data Research UK and build on successes of wider NHS and population-based UK research, such as UK Biobank and Dementias Platform UK, to bring together rich datasets from existing studies in TBI, and also coordinate research data collection and clinical studies going forward. All of this will be made available to UK and international researchers to accelerate research in TBI and its impact on lifelong health.

King‘s is one of six pathfinder centres (along with Cambridge, Glasgow, Imperial, Edinburgh and another to be decided).  Mr Aminul Ahmed, Senior Lecturer in Neurosurgery at King’s College London, is leading the King’s component of this, and will recruit TBI patients.

“Traumatic brain injury can have life altering effects that can dramatically impact a person’s day to day experience. While researchers in this field are all working towards a common goal, we have lacked the infrastructure to be able to effectively share our data. I’m immensely proud that King’s will be one of the six pathfinder centres that will enable UK researchers to work collaboratively in the pursuit of better TBI care.”

Mr Aminul Ahmed, Senior Lecturer in Neurosurgery at King’s College London

The hope is that this will lead to more people being treated effectively as doctors are able to better predict how a certain injury is likely to affect a patient with TBI and offer them individualised care.

The platform will also assist academic and industrial partners to develop better diagnostic tests and treatments for TBI. To facilitate this, the TBI-REPORTER platform will establish a network of research-ready NHS specialist neuroscience hospitals primed to trial innovative ways of diagnosing and treating TBI.

“Given the impact TBI can have on someone’s health and wellbeing, it is key that we understand more about TBI and its consequences among members of the UK Armed Forces community. UK Armed Forces personnel are at risk of experiencing an TBI due to the nature of some the activities they are required to undertake. This new platform will help us to continue exploring the effects of this injury, and ultimately help us to provide better support to the Armed Forces community.”

Professor Nicola Fear, Co-Director of the King’s Centre for Military Health Research

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Chloe Smith said, “Traumatic brain injuries are a leading cause of death and disability in people under 40 in the UK and survivors often endure a lifetime of physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges.

“This funding will bring together leading experts and support studies into the long-term consequences of traumatic brain injuries, allowing researchers to identify patterns and develop tailored treatments, with the potential of saving and massively improving the lives of those with such injuries. It is yet another example of how the UK’s science sector is improving treatment and health outcomes for Britons across the country.”

Brain injury survivor James Piercy said, “As one of the estimated 1 million people living with the results of a traumatic brain injury, I welcome this new initiative which promises to improve diagnosis and treatment of TBI: the ‘hidden disability’.”

Project lead Professor David Menon, Head of the Division of Anaesthesia at the University of Cambridge, said, “It is a privilege to lead this ambitious platform, which brings together a breadth of experts and draws on the lived experience of TBI survivors and their families, to improve care of traumatic brain injury. We also believe that our work, in combination with that of international partners, will re-energise drug development in TBI and deliver new treatments for patients.”

TBI-REPORTER represents a collaboration of leading institutions from across the UK, and will be coordinated by the Universities of Cambridge, Glasgow and Sheffield, Imperial College London, and Swansea University. It also includes close engagement with the public, patients, and their families through the United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum.


For more information, please contact Patrick O'Brien (Senior Media Officer)

In this story

Aminul Ahmed

Senior Lecturer in Neurosurgery

Nicola Fear

Professor of Epidemiology