Supporting COVID-19 research as a healthy participant

Image of CoronavirusNone of the vital COVID-19 research taking place in Cambridge would be possible without people willing to take part, and we would like to thank all of those who have offered to participate and those who are currently enrolled in our studies.

The majority of research studies currently taking place in Cambridge hospitals are recruiting patients who have been admitted with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. However, there are several ways that you can support essential COVID-19 research as a healthy volunteer or as someone who has experienced mild symptoms at home.  We will continue to update this page with further opportunities as and when they arise.

Joining the NIHR BioResource

The NIHR BioResource is made up from volunteers, with and without health conditions, who are willing to be invited to participate in research studies and clinical trials. NIHR BioResource participants are free to decide which (if any) studies they want to take part in. In addition to creating the NIHR COVID-19 BioResource, which is recruiting patients hospitalised with COVID-19, the BioResource is currently recruiting people who have not had the infection or who have had mild symptoms and recovered at home in order to understand their experiences of COVID-19 better.

Usually, participants who have given their consent provide a biological sample (most commonly a blood sample), answer a short questionnaire about their health and lifestyle and allow researchers to access their healthcare records (more information on how your data is kept safe can be found here). However, during the current coronavirus pandemic, the NIHR BioResource have made it possible to join without providing a biological sample and have plans to undertake research into COVID-19 using questionnaires emailed to participants. If you are interested in joining, or have any questions, please email: nbr@bioresource.nihr.ac.uk.

National Health Data Consent Study

The University of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust are leading a national survey about the use and sharing of NHS/HSC medical records for direct care purposes and for research. Created with input from patients and the public, the National Health Data Consent Survey is open to all UK residents and is funded by the Medical Research Council and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network.  This study began before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the researchers are interested in determining whether the pandemic influences how people feel about the use of health data for research purposes.  Responses to the survey are fully anonymous and will help researchers better understand how you feel about the use of health care data.

GenOMICC study on recovered COVID-19 patients

This study aims to find out whether there are genetic factors that cause some people to experience severe symptoms with COVID-19, while others experience milder symptoms. Genomics England is working with the GenOMICC consortium and the NHS to read the entire genomes (all of the DNA of a person) of up to 20,000 people who have had severe COVID-19 – requiring intensive care – and 15,000 people who had mild symptoms.  If you have had COVID-19, you can register your interest in taking part in this study here.

Getting involved in COVID-19 research as a public contributor

Research has never been more important than during the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the public have an important role to play in helping our research teams understand what is important to you in COVID-19 research. By drawing on the experiences, priorities and concerns of the public, we can make sure that we are focusing on COVID-19 research that is relevant, likely to produce outcomes important to patients and that is undertaken in a way that the public are comfortable with. You can get involved in COVID-19 research taking place in Cambridge by joining the Cambridge University Hospitals Patient and Public Involvement Panel.

The panel is a group of around 70 members of the public from in and around Cambridge, who are interested in getting involved in research (you can find out more about research involvement here) and who provide feedback on research taking place on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Panel membership is open to anyone from in and around Cambridgeshire who is not actively employed in research or the media. No previous experience or knowledge of healthcare or research is expected or required. CUH PPI panel members receive potential COVID-19 research projects to comment on and provide their feedback via email to our PPI team. Their feedback is combined anonymously with other contributors as a report for the researchers. If you would like more information on getting involved in research in Cambridge, please email our Patient and Public Involvement Lead, Dr Amanda Stranks.

Information for Research Teams

If you are a researcher in or around Cambridge who is looking for healthy volunteers for COVID-19 research or would like to involve our PPI panel in your research, please get in touch with the CUH R&D PPI and Communications team at brccomms@addenbrookes.nhs.uk.

In order to feature in this list, the study needs to be registered through CUH R&D and be recruiting patients from in and around Cambridge.  Cambridge based researchers are welcome to involve the CUH PPI panel at any stage of their research project or proposal.

Discover more

If you would like more information about NIHR Cambridge BRC, please contact us.