Being able to offer patients the chance to take part in research gives them hope – and it also inspires confidence that their health team is able to offer them cutting edge treatments.
That’s the view of Consultant Gastroenterologist Dr Jimmy Limdi who has been involved in research since his days as a young registrar nearly 20 years ago.
He heads Pennine Acute’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) service and has built a strong research culture from a standing start. Currently patients can be recruited into a total of 12 IBD studies, so most patients can be offered a research project.
Dr Limdi said: “People in our catchment area have just as much right as anyone else to access the best treatment and research offers the most cutting edge IBD therapies.
“Our patients are well-informed about their condition and they know that research raises standards in medicine and helps to provide them with a high quality service.
“It does take time to set up research studies and the systems to support them, but we’re very proud that we have been the top UK recruiter to a number of major studies – that reflects how passionate the team here is about research.”
Dr Limdi, who is also an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Inflammation and Repair at The University of Manchester, says curiosity, imagination and persistence are crucial to success in research, alongside collaboration with colleagues both in the UK and abroad. Being a clinical academic – a specialist doctor who also teaches and carries out research – in this field is an added advantage.
IBD is a highly complex and so far incurable condition that has a major impact on patients’ lives. The most common forms are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease and people with these conditions may have a risk of developing bowel cancer.
But Dr Limdi says current research is potentially promising. His particular interests include:
- A potential role for diet in IBD – the incidence of the condition is high in the West but now increasing in developing countries.
- Older onset IBD, which is usually diagnosed at or above the age of 60 and the symptoms (weight loss, abdominal pain, anaemia and diarrhoea) can lead to misdiagnosis in older people. Dr Limdi has contributed to a number of international guidelines on IBD in the elderly.
- Early diagnosis – it’s known that early diagnosis and effective treatment of the most aggressive forms of IBD leads to better outcomes for patients.
- Translational research – novel treatments and how they can be used for patient benefit.
He summed up: “Seeing complexity day in and day out, dealing with an inflammatory condition with the ability to perpetuate continual gut injury and destruction requires me to be up to date with the most current critical thinking. It is a real challenge but when I see the best evidence and science making a real difference to patients’ lives, it is hugely rewarding.”