About the CRN


Clinical research is, and has always been, at the very heart of the NHS.

Only by carrying out research into “what works” can we continually improve treatment for patients, and understand how to focus NHS resources where they will be most effective.

In 2006, the Department of Health set up the National Institute for Health Research to create a world-class health system within the NHS, and the Clinical Research Network is part of this wider organisation.  At the centre of what we do is the Portfolio – a collection of high-quality clinical studies that benefit from the infrastructure provided by the Clinical Research Network. Many of these studies are Randomised Controlled Trials – considered by many in the medical profession to be the most robust form of clinical trial – although we also support other types of well-designed research.

Read The Clinical Research Network in context

Download PDF

Read CRN Strategic Plan 2012-17

Download PDF

Read Clinical Research Evolved - HSJ supplement

Download PDF

This is how, in practice, we provide an “infrastructure” to support our Portfolio studies:

  • We fund research support posts in the NHS, and provide training, so that researchers have access to experienced “front-line” staff, who can carry out the additional practical activities  required by their study such as obtaining patient consent for participation, carrying out extra tests, and collecting the clinical data required for the research.
  • We provide funding to meet the costs of using facilities such as scanners and x-rays that are needed in the course of the study, so that research activity adds value to patient care.
  • We also provide practical help in identifying and recruiting patients onto Portfolio studies, so that researchers can be confident of completing the study on time, and on target.