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Nurses lead the way in COVID-19 DNA research

01 June 2020


A growing number of clinical trials are now taking place in Norfolk to try to find treatments for the coronavirus. One such trial taking place at the James Paget Hospital, Gt Yarmouth, is being run entirely by research nurses.

The Genetics Of Mortality In Critical Care (GenOMICC) study aims to offer the opportunity for our most seriously ill COVID-19 patients to donate their DNA for analysis to try to find out why some people are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others.

Genes (or DNA) determine how vulnerable people are to sepsis and other forms of critical illness, and researchers believe genes could also affect which people get COVID-19, and the difference in the severity of symptoms.

Finding the DNA that determines susceptibility requires DNA from huge numbers of patients and the NIHR’s regional network of staff are helping to achieve this at Trusts across the country.

All other COVID-19 research at JPUH is currently being overseen by senior clinicians. However, the GenOMICC study is being led by Amanda Ayers and Wendy Harrison (pictured), Clinical Research Nurses at the Trust.

Research Nurses Amanda And Wendy

Amanda and Wendy are part of a network of around 750 research staff funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), who are working to deliver clinical trials at hospitals and GP practices across the region.

Amanda has worked as a Research Nurse for 10 years and joined the research team at JPUH last year. She said “It has been a whole team effort to open this study so quickly and we’re also grateful for the help and support of the ICU team who have been fundamental in making this happen”. 

“We are also incredibly grateful to all those who are, in these most distressing times, happy to offer their help so that we may develop better treatments for critically ill patients in the future.”

Like Amanda, Wendy has paused other research efforts to run the vital COVID-19 clinical trials at the Trust. She added, “In these challenging times it’s been really amazing to see how adaptable our whole Research team have been. I am normally a Cancer Research Nurse, however, the whole team have met the challenge of opening studies in superfast time and working in unfamiliar areas”.

The GenOMICC trial, which is funded in the UK by the Wellcome Trust, is also taking place at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn. This research will inform a global GenOMICC database that is pulling together samples from across the world, enabling results to be as thorough as possible.

For more information visit the GenOMICC study website at: