By Kiki Syrad, Director of Grants and Impact at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity

Published: 28 February 2019

This month marks two years since GOSH Charity and Sparks, the child health research charity, joined forces, bringing together two charities with a united ambition - to improve the lives of children with rare and complex conditions. There was a real desire from both charities to boost UK funding into child health research, something that could be better achieved by pooling resources.

Since partnering, we have already reaped many of the benefits of coming together, not least being able to provide over £4 million to 26 paediatric health research projects at 14 institutions across the UK over the last two years through our National Call. It’s only thanks to joint resource and working together that we’ve been able to offer this sustained level of funding, something which as two entities would not have been possible.  We’ve also been delighted at the high-quality of applications and the interest and support of the paediatric research community.

This year, both GOSH Charity and Sparks wanted to take this further by partnering and working with smaller, disease-specific charities as part of the annual National Call. The aim of these partnerships was three-fold. First, to encourage applications into the disease areas - encouraging applications from new researchers. Secondly, to allow smaller charities to have access to our funding process, global peer review and expert panels to fund their research, with no overheads - saving them money, while ensuring they fund the highest quality research. And thirdly, to allow the support of bigger projects by boosting partner funds with money from the National Call.

This year we’re delighted that we have been able to take forward two projects – one with Krabbe UK and the other with Dravet Syndrome UK. We really hope that these projects come closer to identifying new treatments for these rare and devastating conditions, and that by working together we can bring more hope to the families and children affected by the conditions.   

We’re always conscious that no one will solve the tough challenges in paediatric healthcare alone, and the examples above show the real difference that partnership can make. Many of our existing partnerships allow us to do things, together, that we otherwise could not do alone. We know that in the research landscape, especially when it comes to rare diseases, the relatively small number of patients affected by each condition demands a national and international collaborative approach. The scientists and clinicians we support continue to build creative and durable relationships at a local, national and international level.  And we want to mirror this in the way we fund – proving that we can be more powerful together, that’s why we are currently working with numerous other organisations to find new ways of working together. For example Life Arc who we partnered with last year to launch an exciting translational research programme at GOSH, and Versus Arthritis with whom we have a longstanding partnership funding a centre for Arthritis Research.

With the next national call due to launch later this year we are also planning to reach out to other charities for partnership opportunities again, and would encourage anyone interested to get in touch. We really believe that by pooling our resources we can boost the money spent on child health research - helping more children and their families in the process.