COVID-19 study team recognised for outstanding impact in medical research

Posted by: Jamie Sharp - Posted on:

A Leicester team behind a major UK study into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients has been recognised for its outstanding impact in medical research by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Led by the Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (a partnership between the University of Leicester and the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust), the PHOSP-COVID study has drawn on expertise from a consortium of leading researchers and clinicians from across the UK to assess the impact of COVID-19 on patients’ physical and mental health, and their recovery.

The PHOSP-COVID team’s tireless work to understand the long-term health implications of COVID-19 has seen it shortlisted as a finalist for the Outstanding Team Impact Award at the MRC’s Impact Prize.

The team’s research has looked into a variety of issues associated with COVID-19, including patient recovery outcomes; lung damage; breathlessness; organ abnormalities and the role of blood clots in cognitive problems.

The PHOSP-COVID study launched in April 2020. Within five months, it had established a national consortium and research platform to understand and improve long-term outcomes for survivors following hospitalisation.

PHOSP-COVID combines expertise from doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, sociologists, scientists, statisticians, and data scientists across 24 universities and 83 hospitals together with 13 charities and patient groups.

The study has created a substantial knowledge resource having recruited more than 7,900 participants from 83 hospitals to obtain 16m data points and over 100,000 samples.

Detailed analysis of this data has led to research outputs which have been influential in informing treatment for people with long-COVID and the actions of policy-makers including the Department of Health and Social Care long-COVID task force, the Chief Medical Officers’ long-COVID group and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

The team’s ongoing work looking into mechanisms that drive the long-term effects of COVID-19 on all organs should help in the development of new tests, new treatments, and improved outcomes for people living with long COVID.

The academic co-leads of PHOSP-COVID are Dr Rachael Evans, Clinical Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant Respiratory Physician, Professor of Respiratory Research, Louise Wain, and NIHR Senior Investigator and Clinical Professor in Respiratory Medicine, Chris Brightling.

Dr Evans said: “The ongoing impact of COVID remains a major challenge for the millions of people who have persistent morbidity, for health-care systems, and for economies through loss of work. It is imperative that long COVID remains a major health-care and research priority.”

Professor Wain said: “We are pleased to see the team’s crucial work to be recognised by the Medical Research Council. It really is a team effort involving hundreds of experts from across the UK, but it would be nothing without the patients who have volunteered to be part of the studies.”

This study is supported by a grant to the University of Leicester from the MRC-UK Research and Innovation, and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

Links to PHOSP news stories can be found below:

The Medical Research Council (MRC) Impact Prize launched in 2022 to recognise individuals or teams who have made outstanding contributions in medical research.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in May, with a date to be confirmed.

For more information on PHOSP-COVID please visit their website: