Evaluating the Impact of Oxford's Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)

Children's Wing, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford

Children's Wing, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford

Photo by Jackie Bowman/CC BY-SA 2.0


Oxford is one of 20 Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and is a collaboration between the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Oxford. The aims of BRCs are to support health innovation, encourage translation of research into patient benefit, and further develop the competitiveness of England’s top NHS organisations and universities.


The Oxford BRC awarded RAND Europe and the Office of Health Economics a grant to evaluate the Centre’s impact – including local impacts on care delivered by the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s hospitals, commercial impacts, and academic impacts.

Researchers focussed on the healthcare and economic benefits of Oxford BRC research, whether achieved directly from the outcomes of BRC-supported research, or indirectly due to the impact of BRC’s research activity on local hospital care staff and services. They also tested an existing taxonomy of mechanisms through which healthcare quality may be affected by research activity.


The research team conducted a qualitative analysis that included

  • interviews with leaders of the BRC research themes and working groups
  • interviews with senior clinicians and managers in the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and
  • a survey of all companies that interact with the BRC and case studies on a sample of these companies.


  • Research leaders at the Oxford BRC identified a wide range of beneficial impacts that they expected would be felt at local hospitals as a result of hosting their research activity. These included better staff recruitment and retention, resulting from the hospital having an enhanced reputation; staff reflecting more on clinical decisions and how to deliver care; improved availability of infrastructure; and increased access to new treatments for patients.
  • The senior clinicians responsible for patient care at those hospitals reflected a more mixed picture, identifying many positive impacts, but also a small number of negative ones, resulting from research activity, including that of the Oxford BRC.
  • The existing taxonomy was helpful for organising findings; a proposed modification is that impacts on reputation be considered as another mechanism through which research activity in a healthcare setting can affect patients.
  • Though there are limitations to the generalisability of the industry findings, the results suggest that collaboration with the Oxford BRC is helping companies obtain additional investment, hire additional staff and generate revenue.

Project Team

Jon Sussex (project leader)
Catherine Lichten
Alexandra Pollitt