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Somerset Research Engagement Network

We’re working with partners at Somerset Council and the NHS to better understand the perceptions of research and the barriers that might affect participation amongst communities across Somerset.

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What is REN?

The Research Engagement Network (REN) Project is jointly funded by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The ambition of the project is to increase both participation and diversity in research nationally. This will help to ensure that health and care research is more representative of our diverse populations and that communities are more actively involved in shaping the future of local health and care.

The Somerset Integrated Care System (ICS) has set up the Somerset REN, a cross-organisational collaboration, to focus on groups who are currently underrepresented and underserved in health and care research and to work together to increase diversity in research.

Bringing together colleagues from Spark Somerset, Somerset ICB, Somerset Council, Somerset Foundation Trust, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), and the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration for the South West Peninsula, we are looking to better understand the perceptions of research and barriers to research participation amongst communities across Somerset.


I feel passionately about research in palliative care. By sharing experiences and basing our practice on research, we can all learn, and make the patient experience better.

- Jan, former nurse and participant in medical trials and research

Why research matters

Research can lead to improvements in areas such as treatments, recovery, care, and the prevention of diseases. It is important that health and care research involves everyone, in particular individuals from underserved and diverse backgrounds, so that research outcomes that involve developing new medicines, vaccines, services and procedures can best meet the needs of every individual.

Grahame's story

Having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Grahame Priest decided to take part in the Precision-Panc trial. He was treated at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust. In this video, he shares his experiences.

Find out more

If you’d like to find out more about Spark Somerset’s involvement with the REN project, please get in touch using our contact form.

Further reading

Find out more about the topic of clinical research, as well as stories from medical trial participants.

Be Part of Research

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Clinical Research – Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

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Jackie’s story

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Case study: Hannah Twinney

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