Research

Our investment into groundbreaking research began in 1977 and since then we have provided over £23 million in grants to research fellows, clinicians and nurse researchers at some of the UK’s most established hospitals and research units.

What

WellChild’s aim now is a commitment to funding innovative and high quality research, projects and resources which make an impact in the areas of children’s health on which WellChild’s strategy is currently focused.

Why

Because it is our vision for all seriously ill children and young people in the UK to have the best quality care whatever their diagnosis, situation or location. By funding practical projects and research we hope to ensure parents, carers and those currently working in the children’s healthcare sector are better equipped to provide support to children and young people with long term or complex healthcare needs. Through these, new treatments and therapies have been developed to enable better diagnosis and management of many rare as well as more familiar childhood diseases and conditions. These include liver disease, respiratory disorders, neurological conditions, congenital heart conditions, Cysitic Fibrosis, and Batten’s disease.

How

All of WellChild’s research projects are peer reviewed by a panel of experts within the field of child health in line with the requirements of the Association of Medical Research Charities of which WellChild is a member charity. http://www.amrc.org.uk/our-members

Who

WellChild works with some of the UK’s most established hospitals and research units.

If we had not had this endowment from WellChild we would have found it very difficult to do the work we do because it is not easily fundable. Thanks to WellChild we had a laboratory facility and a guaranteed salary that meant we had something to hang everything on.

Professor Neil Dalton, Evelina Children's Hospital, London

Take a look at some of our past research projects

Protecting children undergoing bone marrow transplantation from cryptosporidium – Dr Angharad Davies at Swansea University

This study investigated the occurrence of Cryptosporidium in children with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) who were having a bone marrow transplant as part of their treatment. Cryptosporidium is a common parasite that causes diarrhoea but can be fatal in children with SCID due to their weakened immune system. This research was essential for getting a clearer understanding of the factors that can lead to a child with SCID developing Cryptosporidium as well as an important step towards developing a potentially life-saving treatment for this infection.

Application of virtual rehabilitation to improve core control in Cerebral Palsy – Dr Gabor Barton, Liverpool John Moors University researcher

Working alongside partners including Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Dr Barton conducted research into how virtual reality games could be used in rehabilitation to train posture control in children with cerebral palsy. Their award winning custom built virtual reality computer game (Goblin Post Office) was used to train movement coordination of the pelvis and trunk. Inclusion of such a highly motivating human and computer interaction in physiotherapy of children has the great potential to improve control of the body’s core which in turn can improve movement function. This research has resulted in not only an enjoyable computer game experience for the children but one which encourages them to comply better with their treatment and improve their movement more quickly thus reducing the overall cost of treatment.

Sudden Unexpected Postnatal Collapse – Dr Julie-Clare Becher at Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

This surveillance study looked at the small number of tragic cases where babies, who appear to be perfectly healthy at birth collapse unexpectedly in the first few hours of life and need urgent resuscitation. Affecting an average of one baby every two to three years – there was very little information about the causes and what could be done to prevent it. As a result of this study, Dr Becher produced guidelines that have been successfully used in her own unit at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The number of instances has dramatically reduced as a result and the guidelines have been distributed to neonatal units around the country.

3D Pain and Anxiety Distraction System – Jo Wray at GOSH

This innovative project tested whether children watching TV in either 2D or 3D during a serious and painful dressing change helped them to experience less pain and distress. 113 children took part in the study and, along with their parents, gave feedback on pain and anxiety levels. They were also observed during the dressing change by experienced health staff. Although no overall benefit of 3D over 2D was proven, the children’s experiences were generally improved and the equipment is now being routinely used for children on the plastic surgery ward.

Please note: we do not currently fund research using animals. However, as a member of The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) we do support the principle of using animals in research when it is necessary to advance understanding of health and disease and to develop new treatments for children and young people with serious illnesses or complex care needs. This research only takes place where there is no alternative available. All AMRC member charities support this principle. For further information about AMRC visit their web site.