Participating in Research


Taking part in research is not just about taking a new drug or treatment or trialling some new equipment. There are many other ways in which you can take part and provide input into research taking place at the BRC. The following animation explains a little about what clinical research is and encourages you to ask about involvement.

Research-Addenbrookes version 2 from Cambridge University Hospitals on Vimeo.

Featured research study

Can you tolerate the heat? Chilli pepper used to mimic nerve pain in new study

Neuropathic pain can occur when nerves are damaged, for example in diabetes, during shingles or after trauma from an accident or surgery. Such pain is very persistent and is very difficult to manage. Patients often report that currently available medication for neuropathic pain are ineffective or have intolerable side effects. A new study led by Dr Michael Lee will mimic ‘nerve’ pain in healthy volunteers using an extract from chilli peppers, capsaicin. The team want to test the efficacy of the drug Ivabradine, currently used to treat angina, at blocking neuropathic pain.

The study builds on research from Prof McNaughton’s team in the Department of Pharmacology in the University of Cambridge on mice. His group revealed that HCN-2 channels are critical for the development of pain after a nerve injury. They found that mice that had HCN-2 channels genetically deleted from nociceptors or ‘pain-causing’ nerves did not have pain after nerve injury.

Capsaicin is the active ingredient of the chilli pepper. A small amount of capsaicin cream will be applied temporarily to the forearm to sensitise the skin to standardised heat and mechanical stimulation. This mimics the increased skin sensitivity that is reported by patients with chronic neuropathic pain. The team hope to ascertain whether Ivabradine reduces the capsaicin-induced pain sensitivity. If that is the case, Ivabradine and other more specific HCN blockers may be worth developing as an entirely new class of medication for the treatment of neuropathic pain in patients.

The Chief Investigator Dr Michael Lee from the Division of Anaesthesia in the University of Cambridge is leading the study. The Cambridge Clinical Trials Unit (CCTU) is providing co-ordination, data management and statistical input for the study. The UK Medical Research Council and the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre are funding the trial.

Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Panel

Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust currently has a panel of 60 people from all backgrounds and all ages, who review research studies at the development stage and provide feedback to researchers.

Panel members review approximately 3 to 4 studies a year and documents are submitted via e-mail or post, so there are no travel costs and time is kept to a minimum. If you are interested in joining our panel, please contact Anna Ellis at

Find out more about public involvement in research at the following national websites -

Involve -

People in Research -

UK Clinical Trials Gateway -

NIHR Cambridge BioResource

  • You can also become a member of the Cambridge BioResource. The BioResource currently has over 14,000 volunteers of all ages and backgrounds within the Cambridgeshire area who have provided either a blood or saliva sample which is used along with other data to match them to suitable research trials.

  • Further details can be found at Cambridge BioResource