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Moorhead Trust

The Moorhead Trust promotes research in treatment and cure of renal diseases. It was created in 1972 by Professor John Moorhead and it merged with the Royal Free Charity in 2018.

The Moorhead Trust funds renal research. Since renal patients have up to 50 times the risk of death from cardiovascular disease than the normal population, the Trust has recently focused on funding on the cardiovascular system of patients with renal disease, renal failure, and dialysis and kidney transplantation.


Short history of the Trust

In 1966, the Royal Free Hospital Nephrology was a five patient dialysis programme. There was no teaching, research, inpatient beds or outpatient clinics. During his first clinic, a young John Moorhead was told by the kind outpatient sister that she was “sure he would have a patient next week”. Two Senior House Officers were supported by Dr Zac Varghese who ran a small lab.

John Moorhead aimed to make research a normal adjunct to clinical activity supported by a well-equipped laboratory. As usual, there was the familiar problem of finding funds to supplement those obtained from grant giving bodies, and the unexpected solution to this came from patients and their supporters, families, friends, and clubs such as Rotary. They were incredibly generous, raising a lot of funds for new dialysis machines so successfully that in turn brought about the creation of a special dialysis machine fund to administer the money raised.

The Kidney Patients Association was also an important driver of patients’ research interest. Capital grants came from the NHS towards a new transplant lab building and contributions from the Wolfson Foundation, Sandy Griffiths Family Trust and other notable individual donors such as Mrs Coral Samuel and Mr Michael Smith also stood out.

In 1971, John Moorhead was approached by Mr Sandy Griffiths, a businessman who was interested in kidney research, to offer a donation of shares from his company to set up a new research fund. Mr Griffiths liaised with John’s solicitor to establish a registered charitable trust to support and develop research in renal disease anf thus the J F Moorhead Trust was created. Mr Griffiths eventually donated his substantial Estate to the Trust.

Funding by the J F Moorhead Trust soon attracted excellent young clinicians who were to make many significant contributions for renal treatments. The original support of limited conventional research soon exceeded its monetary value as the outcomes of projects and technical developments were considerable.

Calcium metabolism and lipid research programmes could be confident of regular funding; new RFH laboratory space adjacent to the dialysis unit at Royal Free Hospital was partly funded and provided with modern tools such as flow cytometry machines, ultracentrifuges, a high performance liquid chromatographer and a cold room. In 2009 funds were provided for the current research laboratory in partnership with UCL. Numerous MD, MSc and PhD students with a substantial international element qualified in the unit from its earliest days. Their degrees were awarded by their own universities and London University before UCL became independent in 1995.

The JM Moorhead Trust merged with the Royal free Charity in 2018. The Trust currently supports kidney laboratory research at the Royal Free and its committee members meet three times a year to maintain oversight of the work they fund.

The UCL Royal Free Department of Renal Medicine is the academic limb of the Royal Free Kidney department and there are close clinical and academic links between the various department centres and the clinical service. The Director of the department is Professor Alan Salama and the Deputy Director is Professor Jill Norman.

Joint Royal Free Charity Moorhead Trust PhD studentship

A new studentship will be launched in late 2019 for a student to undertake a three year PhD in some aspect of kidney medicine research. Applications will be launched in September (application form can be found here) and we hope to have a candidate in post by October 2019.

Please complete the application form below.


Studentship application form 2019 (.docx 1.9MB)