The University of Southampton

Virtual Research Integration Collaboration (VRIC)

Virtual Communities and Social Systems, Web Science

The aim of the project is to build a framework for the integration of basic science and clinical research to manage research lifecycles and allow for integration of scientific approaches throughout these lifecycles into the everyday work practice of the consortia that manage translational clinical research. The project will take the CORE VRE and embed it into a National centre for surgical excellence, the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH). The VRE will integrate both with the institutional systems and research life cycle, and with the national systems such as the National Health Service (NHS). It is our aim to integrate the CORE VRE with myExperiment to provide a set of services at RNOH to cover the four main areas of the research cycle, namely: the monitoring and governance of trials (experiment research administration); the trial protocols (experiment workflows); the publishing, dissemination and discussion on the results of trials in a repository; and the discovery of information from the repository and other resources. For this community, there are three tightly coupled areas of focus: research, clinical practice, and education (in the form of continuing professional development and training of the next generation of surgeons). In this project, our user community will be heavily involved in co-designing and codeployment of the tool set, and in particular the front end of the workbench will be user focused. The tools will need to be available to staff anywhere with the organisation, as clinicians need to be able to enter the data during clinics and directors of research need to be able to monitor the trials. This will bring with it a number of inter-operability issues, as we move data between the VRE, the hospital systems (NHS) and the institutional systems. To aid the understanding of the how the system will be used, we outline a typical ‘research cycle’ that includes the practice of a clinical specialist in orthopaedics (who may also be a Higher surgical trainee) and a basic scientist. The purpose of this is to identify time essential information provision and interaction with pervasive technologies. For new researchers one of the most difficult tasks is to learn good practice or find related experiments to learn how to instantiate the protocols; in many organisations it is often easier to repeat an experiment than to find the results of a similar previous experiment. In this abstracted model of the research lifecycle, we have split up the cycle into four main research activities. In each of these activities the different issues and stakeholders are addressed. The wider community nationally is represented by the Musculoskeletal network of Greater London, NHS, e-science, Surgical and VRE communities. It is through the Musculoskeletal network of Greater London that we will be able to co-ordinate knowledge and demonstrations to advise the community and for continuity. This project will impact on the wider academic community in the UK, initially through dissemination via organisations such as BriteNet (Tissue Engineering), The British Orthopaedic Association, British Orthopaedic Research Society, and the British Elbow and Shoulder Society as the groups tied into the consortia development.

Primary investigator

Secondary investigators


  • Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore

Associated research group

  • Electronic and Software Systems
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