Research, Learning and Innovation

As long as childhood diseases exist, we will keep striving to find their cure. At Birmingham Children's Hospital we have always believed our patients deserve more than just today's best. Throughout history, research has played a vital role increasing our understanding of illness, developing better treatment and equipment, and ultimately improving and saving lives. It’s our job to encourage the next great idea and we are committed to supporting high quality research into children’s health and disease.

Funds we raise from donors can enable researchers to come up with incredible medical advances which will have a real impact on more young lives. Grants have resulted in high quality, internationally recognised research, and have enabled our outstanding clinicians to become leaders of paediatric research. By funding research and learning, discovery of new cures, treatments and approaches, and equipping staff with new knowledge, skills and resources, we are doing more to accelerate and advance medical breakthroughs, improving our children’s chances and pioneering change for the next generation.

Thanks to the hard work of our research teams and clinical staff, we are leading the way with paediatric research in a number of areas including:

  • Childhood cancer
  • Inherited metabolic disorders / rare diseases
  • Liver disease
  • Infection, inflammation and immunity
  • Nutrition, growth and metabolism in childhood
  • Drug use in children
  • Relapsed and refractory acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
  • Infant neuroblastoma
  • Infant brain tumours

Every year, our dedicated staff need springboard funding to help them explore, study and test the next idea, the next treatment, the next change needed to transform medicine and treatment and so save lives.    

We need your help to keep putting patients at the heart of research.

Here are just some of the ways your donations have helped support researchers at Birmingham Children’s Hospital make incredible medical advances:

Research Foundation

Set up in 2001,the Birmingham Children's Hospital Research Foundation (BCHRF) has awarded over £4million to researchers at our hospital and Birmingham Women’s Hospital . These grants, awarded annually, have resulted in high quality, internationally recognised research, and have enabled our academic trainees to become leaders of paediatric research.

Among the many important developments made possible by your fundraising:

  • Dr Andrew Peet clinician scientist leading research into brain tumour imaging at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, commented that work resulting from a £50k “seed grant” from Birmingham Children's Hospital Research Foundation in 2002 had led to 38 further successful grant applications, generating more than £30million, resulting in over 100 peer-reviewed publications, and presentations at more than 30 national and international conferences. This had culminated in the opening of the new 3T MRI centre putting Birmingham Children’s Hospital at the forefront of research in this area.


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Case study - The Poppy Fields Appeal supporting Brain Tumour Research at Birmingham Child’s Hospital

Poppy Guilder was diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was just 14-months-old. To help raise awareness of her condition, her family launched the Poppy Fields Appeal and to date have donated an incredible £230,000 towards Dr Andrew Peet's Brain Tumour Research Fund at our hospital. Dr Peet is constantly researching new treatments and scanning techniques, to save more lives and improve the quality of life of survivors like Poppy.

Now an active teenager who lives life to the full, Poppy is an inspiration to everyone she meets. We're all so proud of everything she's achieved!


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  • Dr Manju Kurian, now lead clinician scientist/honorary consultant at GOSH/ICH, gained a PhD and won numerous awards for research funded by BCHRF including the University of Birmingham Roberts Prize for her Doctoral Research into the genetics of infantile parkinsonism. Her work with Professor Maher and Dr Evangeline Wassmer, consultant neurologist, led to the identification of novel genes for severe childhood neurological disease, new understanding of gene-related pathogenesis, and the characterisation of gene-specific phenotypes.


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  • Dr Heather Duncan, Intensive Care Consultant at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, whose £40K Birmingham Children's Hospital Research Foundation research project grant in 2005 enabled her to develop the Paediatric Early Warning System (PEWS). The PEWS dramatically reduced the number of cardiac arrests in the hospital and led to a successful bid for £75K from an external charity, and a valuable partnership with the McLaren F1 racing team to create remote monitoring systems that were more sensitive and rapidly responsive.

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Download the full review of the Research Foundation's first 10 years

The Stiliyan Petrov Foundation supporting Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s research on the impact of Asparaginae, an anti-cancer drugs

The Stiliyan Petrov Foundation is a long-standing and valued supporter of our charity. Former Bulgarian international and Aston Villa star, Stiliyan was diagnosed with acute Leukaemia in 2012 and founded his own charity the following year to help address the issues faced by adults and children who receive a similar diagnosis.

The Stiliyan Petrov Foundation has recently £20k to support a study that our hospital is undertaking into the side effects of Asparaginase, a highly effective anti-cancer chemotherapy drug used for both adults and children. Unfortunately, it is also highly toxic and can induce severe side effects. To tackle this, we are studying the pharmokinetics of the drug (how the body metabolises the drug and how long it stays at a therapeutic threshold within the system), which will then allow us to tailor patient dosage. This will help us to provide the ideal dose to our patients.


Asparaginase is a drug that Stiliyan received during his treatment. Support from the Foundation means that all children receiving Asparaginase will be able to take part in this study, which will not only have a positive impact on their own quality of life during their treatment, but will also impact on the treatment of young patients in the future.


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Rare diseases

We have made a commitment to transform the lives of future generations by funding research that will prevent, diagnose and cure rare diseases in children. That determination led us to being named the UK's Rare Diseases Research Collaboration Centre.

A huge 75% of rare diseases affect children. And 30% of these patients will die before their fifth birthday.

They don't have to. That's why Birmingham Children’s Hospital is so committed, and why we're going to build the UK's first Rare Diseases Centre for children.

We are in a unique position given that the demographic and complexity of the population we serve have a high prevalence of rare diseases. In addition to providing an understanding to the causes of rare diseases the research we hope to conduct in the very near future will also provide a fundamental insight into the causes of common diseases.