A clinician who has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 both as a medic and as a pioneering researcher into potential vaccines, has been awarded a visiting professorship from the University of Bradford.

Dr Dinesh Saralaya, a Consultant Respiratory Physician at Bradford Teaching hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTHFT) and Director for Bradford’s National Institute for Health Research’s Patient Recruitment Centre has been appointed Visiting Professor for the Department of Academic and Life Sciences.

He received the accolade for his long-standing contribution to the field of healthcare and research.

Commenting on the award, he said: “This title is a great honour for me and is recognition of my research contribution to the city and the links which have been forged between BTHFT and the life sciences industry.

“I intend to use my role as a positive voice to put Bradford on the map for its research into the development of new drugs to combat severe asthma and other respiratory conditions – including COVID-19 – because there is a great need among our patients as it will be they who benefit greatly if we are at the centre of cutting edge medical and pharmaceutical advances. I am both humbled and proud to receive this award which strengthens our hospitals partnership with the University of Bradford even further.

Dr Saralaya has also played a leading role in city’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Bradford, as one of the Bradford Royal Infirmary’s frontline medics and has appeared on both national and local media as a key communicator informing communities how to stay safe during the pandemic.

Dr Bryan Gill, the Trust’s Chief Medical Officer, commented ‘Dr Saralaya fully deserves the recognition for his outstanding research over many years in the pursuit of changing the lives of so many patients suffering from severe respiratory conditions, including COVID-19.”

Professor John Wright, Director of the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR) added:  “Dr Saralaya has been one of the many heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been fearless in caring for his patients on the red zone wards but also led our vital clinical research in Bradford that has discovered new drugs to fight the virus. He has become one of the top national experts in clinical and respiratory research and his recent appointment as Director of the NIHR Patient Recruitment Centre is testimony to his talents. Above all he is a wonderful colleague to work with – full of vim, enthusiasm and laughter.”

Dr Saralaya came to England from his native India in 1995. After various medical roles at Doncaster, Cambridge, Manchester and Leeds, he joined BTHFT in 2001 as a senior registrar before being appointed consultant in 2004.

Since 2009, he has led the BIHR’s Respiratory Clinical Trials Unit which, under his leadership, has grown to become one of the largest self-funded respiratory clinical trials in the UK. The unit is also one of the top five most reliable and experienced severe asthma clinical research units in the UK.

Since 2011, Dr Saralaya has been the chief co-ordinating investigator in the UK for several multi-national phase two and three severe asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) trials. The unit has recruited several global and European-first patients into these trials and attracts patients from across the Yorkshire region.

In 2015 and 2016 Dr Saralaya was awarded the best Principal Investigator Award for the UK for his delivery into the commercial respiratory research portfolio by NIHR.

In 2014, Dr Saralaya was appointed Associate Director of Research at the BIHR and has grown the institute’s commercial research portfolio to over £1.25 million pounds annually.

Under his stewardship, the unit has moved to a brand new facility which will enhance research at the Trust even further.

Dr Saralaya runs a weekly severe asthma clinic at Bradford Royal Infirmary, chairs a severe asthma multi-disciplinary team meeting held every fortnight at the BIHR, and is an active senior member of the wider Yorkshire Severe Asthma Network.

He has particular interest in inhalation profiles in patients with severe asthma and COPD and has published his work on this field.

In 2019 Dinesh was awarded the NIHR/ Royal College of Physicians’ Award for Research in the Consultants’ category and in 2012 he won the University’s Annual Teaching Award for Medical Students.

Dinesh is also the National Clinical Lead for Industry for the Respiratory Disorders’ Speciality Group at NIHR.