Our current projects
We believe everyone should have access to the best medical imaging. We invest in equipment, research and education to make this happen. Read about our current projects here.
- New 3.0T MRI Scanner for our clinic
It has been ten years since the Cobalt Imaging Centre opened in Cheltenham and this year, Cobalt needs to invest in a new 3.0 Tesla MRI scanner to ensure that we continue to provide the very best in diagnostic care in Gloucestershire and the surrounding counties.
The new scanner has all the latest software and scanning sequences to ensure we continue to offer the very best high-definition specialist neurology and musculoskeletal images for all our clinical and research patients, both now and well into the future.
The new scanner has also been designed with a much wider bore, which makes it a more comfortable experience for claustrophobic and larger patients and the scanning times will generally be shorter. We will also be able to do many more examinations with the patient in feet first, reducing anxiety
In addition to the purchase of the state-of-the-art MRI scanner, it is hoped that we will be able to make the patient’s experience even better by providing ambient lighting in the scanning room and offering them a relaxing new ‘in bore’ patient experience system.
An uncomfortable patient is likely to move and affect the quality of the in magnetic resonance (MR) images, so that scans need to be repeated, or last longer than a patient is comfortable with. Our attention to the patient experience will therefore not only help the patient, it will ensure consistent image quality and help ensure that we are working efficiently and scanning more patients than we do already.
The ambient lighting and computer system aims to reduce anxiety and enable patients to control a relaxing environment of their choice whilst having their scan. Three innovative elements, the visual experience, comforting guidance, and reduced noise have been combined to support patient satisfaction and compliance.
- Teenage and young adults nurse
The impact of a cancer diagnosis on children and families can be immense. Young cancer patients have unique biological, physiological and social needs during treatment which are distinct from other cancer patients. For teenagers and young adults, traditionally little care has put into place that delivers according to their specific needs, with patients often either treated alongside children of a younger age, or with adults.
The Cobalt TYA Cancer Nurse ensures that an appropriate framework, meeting the needs of young adult cancer patients, is established at a time when they are most vulnerable. Megan Willsher was appointed as the Cobalt TYA Cancer Nurse in June 2011 and is based at Cheltenham General Hospital, linking with colleagues in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Birmingham; she is one of only five TYA Cancer Specialist Nurses in the South West.
‘My role ensures these patients are supported throughout their cancer journey and beyond, helping them to move forward with their life, as they would have without the intrusion of cancer.’ Megan Willsher, Cobalt Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Nurse
‘I am grateful to Megan and to Cobalt for funding the job she does. She has been such a great support.’ Samantha (Patient)
How you can help:
The cost of providing this service is £28,000 per year. Please help to continue to support this valuable service for young cancer patients.
- Dementia Research Nurse
One of our objectives is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of dementia. We have formed a partnership with the 2gether NHS Foundation Trust to develop the dementia diagnostic pathway using state-of-the-art imaging equipment and are also working to increase patient participation in research trials into new treatments by funding two Research Nurse posts at the newly opened Fritchie Centre in Cheltenham.
In 2014, less than 4% of people with a diagnosis of dementia were involved in a clinical research study. The Government’s Challenge on Dementia sets out an ambition to increase this figure to 10%. Dementia is a priority area for both the National Institute of Health Research and Cobalt. Dementia currently affects 850,000 people in the UK and it is only through research that we can determine the causes and develop effective treatments and improve care for patients, both existing and in the future.
Cobalt would like to fund two research nurses who will work with doctors and patients to recruit patients onto national trials at the Fritchie Centre. Cobalt will also support many of these trials with the state-of-the-art imaging equipment.
Clinical research involves many different departments (imaging, pathology and laboratories), external agencies and people. The role of the research nurse is to mediate between these points of contact, all whilst encouraging and reassuring patients participating in the study. The care that this role offers means that patients have a familiar face guiding them through the process and that all necessary appointments are attended and data is accurate and collected at the right times.
I am excited to be working with Cobalt Health on dementia research as every research project that we undertake, is a step to bring us closer to preventing, treating and caring for people with dementia.
I really love all aspects of my job but the best part is meeting and talking to the patients.
Liz Walker, Senior Research Nurse Practitioner.
- The funding of a Research Nurse post will allow the 2gether Trust to deliver above and beyond what is currently funded, thus allowing them to pursue the government target of 10% enrolment onto research trials.
- A growing number of dementia patients participating in trials will contribute to improved standards of care for dementia and Alzheimer's disease at a local level, whilst also contributing to the wider health research environment nationally and internationally, by yielding results that lead to better diagnosis and treatment for all in the future.
How you can help:
The cost of providing two Research Nurses is £88,000 per year. Please help to continue to support this valuable service for local dementia patients and future generations through the valuable research output.
- Education and our Cancer Prevention Team
Over 40% of cancers can be prevented; in many cases they are caused by the way we live our lives, in particular by smoking, leading a sedentary lifestyle, eating an unhealthy diet and drinking too much alcohol. Teaching about healthy lifestyles can help to reduce mortality rates by preventing some cancers and other serious diseases too.
At Cobalt, we have a specialist team working within the field of cancer prevention, visiting schools, colleges, businesses, social clubs and community projects to discuss preventative measures and raise awareness. Cobalt provides these vital services completely free of charge.
Cobalt’s cancer prevention team invests time and resource to support the national early diagnosis initiative. This initiative recognises the importance of raising awareness and reporting symptoms to your GP that could be an early sign of cancer. Early diagnosis increases the chances of successful treatment.
How you can help:
To support our cancer prevention programme we need to raise £31,000 each year. To request a talk by our cancer prevention team or for further information on their work please go to our contact page.
What we've achieved
Read about some of our success stories here.
- MRI Research Facility
A vital MRI research facility was needed for a leading research centre, The Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM) at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham (QEHB). The ITM is a strategic alliance between the University of Birmingham and three major teaching hospitals; the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Birmingham Women’s Hospital.
MRI scanners at the hospitals were being used purely for clinical need, due to high demand, which meant that vital research was not being undertaken.
The Centre was officially opened by Dr Nicola Strickland, President of the Royal College of Radiologists and Clive Richards OBE. In attendance were The Right Worshipful, The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Carl Rice, Dame Julie Moore Chief Executive University Hospital Birmingham, Rt Hon Jacqui Smith Chair of UHB, Cobalt CEO Peter Sharpe and Cobalt Medical Director, Professor Iain Lyburn.
The event was supported by a series of talks from various partners including a guest speaker from the USA, Dr, John Wald MD, Associate Professor of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, USA.
The project was made possible through fundraising activities, your donations and the generous support of Trusts and Foundations and represents a real partnership between the Hospital, University and charity Cobalt that will progress the very latest scientific research findings for a collaborative network of clinicians, academics and industry partners. It will provide access to a wide range of more effective targeted treatments and a personalised approach to healthcare.
Peter Sharpe, Cobalt’s CEO said ‘This is an exciting new chapter for Cobalt and important day for research. This development will ultimately provide access to a wide range of more effective, targeted treatments and a personalised approach to healthcare. This has been a great example of where the NHS, a charity and a university can work closely together for the benefit of the patient. We are incredibly grateful to the Trusts, Foundations and other supporters that have invested in this project.’
Translational Medicine aims to accelerate the rate at which research can improve patient treatments and outcomes, using a highly collaborative approach that will include all components of the ‘bench to bedside’ pathway. Cobalt will be working alongside the Birmingham Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM) and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham to provide this service.
We are grateful to The Clive and Sylvia Richards Charity for being our principal investors and for supporting this project.
In addition we were able to secure funding from:
The Eranda Foundation
The Bernard Piggott Charitable Trust
The Rowlands Trust
The P F Charitable Trust
The Eveson Trust
The Gordon Gray Trust
Spirax Sarco Charitable Trust
The Saintbury Trust
We are also grateful to our anonymous donors.
- Funding for PhD researchers
Improving cancer treatment is not just about developing and testing better cancer drugs. Cancer also needs to be diagnosed, and treatment needs monitoring – so there are huge efforts underway to improve and speed up cancer diagnosis and to find ways to monitor the success – or failure – of treatment. In the early stages, much of this groundwork might be viewed as ‘blue skies’ research and is not profitable for pharmaceutical companies to fund. A key charitable objective of Cobalt is to supporting research and education.
Cobalt is part - funding two PhD studentships at Biospectroscopy Research Labs, Exeter University, under the guidance of Professor Nick Stone, the University’s Head of Physics and Astronomy.
The first PhD was taken up by Louise Clark in 2013, entitled ‘Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy and surface enhanced spatially offset Raman spectroscopy for disease diagnosis’ .
Cobalt is currently fundraising in order to fund a further PhD opportunity at Exeter University, using Raman spectroscopy to help diagnose cancers. This project will help identify less invasive and novel methods of cancer diagnosis .
The results of both studies will be published and made available to the medical community and may pave the way for a less invasive method of cancer diagnosis.
How you can help:
Please help support this project so that we may continue to provide this valuable opportunity to a student, but also further studies into cancer research. Cost to cobalt over three years is £52,500.
- School of clinical imaging
Cobalt is a leading provider of education and training for medical professionals from all over the UK, through the Cobalt School of Clinical Imaging. Advancements in medical imaging move quickly and it is vital that healthcare professionals have access to the latest thinking.
Cobalt provides a vital source of information, through a programme of full day specialist conferences and lecture series. The educational programme is a highly valued source of continuing professional development for the delegates and ensures that developments in research and best practice are widely shared for the benefit of all patients. Delegates range from doctors who specialise in cancer, dementia or medical imaging to GPs and physiotherapists. In 2016 over 800 medical professionals attended educational events and in 2017 we are expecting even more. The events are generally free or low cost to cover some of the expenses incurred.
Our vision is to further develop the School of Clinical Imaging programme to enable even more medical professionals to attend events, learn from each other and to evolve the role of diagnostic imaging for the benefit of every patient. Educating the public on cancer prevention and healthy living is also one the key objectives of the Charity.
How you can help:
We need funding to continue to deliver our education programme. Our conferences are engaging and attract the leading minds in the fields of Oncology and Dementia from all over the world to share their knowledge and experience with local doctors and specialists. Sponsorship Opportunities are available for our Conferences.
- 2gether Partnership
Research fund / 2gether Nurse
In partnership with the 2gether Trust, Cobalt provides a research nurse at the new Fritchie Centre at a cost of £40k pa. We are looking to increase funding so that we may provide another nurse, again at a cost of £40k.