OXFORD is not only rich in its history, literature and culture, but is also at the forefront of scientific discovery and clinical trials.

To mark International Clinical Trials Day today, it has been revealed by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) that 96 per cent of residents in the county would willingly take part in clinical research if it were to make a positive contribution to public health.

One Oxford resident who has already taken the plunge and would encourage others to do the same is 29-year-old Heather Smyth.

The mum of four-month-old Seren Goodsell said she saw an advert for the OxWATCH study conducted by Oxford University and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, when she and her partner were trying for a baby.

She said: "My main reason for taking part was because I wanted to contribute to research that could help other women have healthy pregnancies.

"They offered two extra scans during the pregnancy which was particularly appealing to me.

"Also, it was interesting as an insight into my own health, such as having a heart echo and my blood vessels checked.

"As a first time mum, it was especially lovely to be able to spend so much time with the midwives and ask them any questions I had."

The study started two years ago to help understand the health and lifestyle of women before they become pregnant and whether early intervention can help improve the health of the women and their child after the pregnancy.

Doctor Ignrid Granne, consultant gynaecologist and sub-specialist in reproductive medicine, said: "The really interesting thing is the things we can do before women are pregnant that are going to influence their health during pregnancy and their health in the long term."

OxWATCH is just one of the many examples of groundbreaking clinical trials which have been started in the county.

The Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Oxford’s department of Psychiatry are trailing a new method to find anti-depressant treatments that work for individual patients and the NIHR has launched a trial at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes to gather information people with the illness to understand its genetic and non-genetic causes.

Doctor Tony Berendt, medical director at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We are delighted to mark International Clinical Trials Day by highlighting great examples of how clinical research makes a real difference to the quality of patient care and outcomes in Oxfordshire.

"It is also a great moment to celebrate the success of the partnerships between the NHS and our university partners together with the National Institute for Health Research bodies that are hosted within Oxfordshire’s health system

"We know that the quality of care is improved for patients who are participating in clinical trials and we continue to work towards an ambition that ultimately every patient we care for would be given the chance to participate in a clinical trial or study."