A WEALTH of opportunities to get involved at the cutting edge of medical research was presented to patients at a drop-in session in Oxford.

Scientists and NHS staff welcomed scores of curious visitors to West Oxford Community Centre off Botley Road on Tuesday to find out about current and up-and-coming projects.

The event was organised by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR)'s Thames Valley clinical research network, which supports trials taking place in the NHS.

Oxford is a hub for clinical research, with Oxford University at the forefront of many discoveries which are then tested in the county's hospitals.

Graham Ogg, professor of dermatology at the Churchill Hospital, said: "It's nice to have the opportunity to meet people and hopefully inspire them to become involved."

About 40,000 people are seen by Prof Ogg's department every year and the team is carrying out ongoing studies into eczema using samples from patients.

It is also looking at new imaging methods for skin cancer, analysing images of moles or skin blemishes digitally rather than using the clinician's eye and judgement.

Prof Ogg added: "It's humbling how generous patients are with their time. With our trials it can be difficult because they're so fixed in terms of time commitment."

Alison Davis, a clinical research nurse at the Nuffield department of orthopaedics, rheumatology and musculoskeletal sciences (NDORMS), was also present.

She said: "Our aim is to increase public engagement in research, in particular with regards to orthopaedic studies.

"We have a number that look at the best way to treat hip pain and prevent long-term diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

"People are surprised at how easy it is.

"Many of our studies aren't clinical trials but observational; it doesn't involve giving people a drug, just asking about their health."

Meanwhile both healthy volunteers and people struggling with memory and cognitive difficulties were recruited for the 28,000-strong Join Dementia Research register.

The online and telephone service connects patients and the public to ongoing dementia studies, with 7,000 people currently taking part in studies as a result.

William Turner, a research assistant at the John Radcliffe Hospital, said: "We have all sorts of studies: various drug trials, and studies into quality of life.

"The only way we are going to find a cure and understand this disease is with people. Without the help of patients we wouldn't get anywhere. They are the cure."

For more information on current vacancies visit ouh.nhs.uk/research/patients/get-involved.aspx