Our values and vision

Discover the ethos and practice that underpins the work of the Research Centre.

The Salvesen Mindoom Research Centre was created in 2015, following a donation from Alastair Salvesen CBE. The gift was given to develop a programme of combined research and practice work that would benefit children and young people with learning difficulties and their families. 

The founding remit of the Centre, was to:

  • Describe and understand learning difficulties in detail
  • Develop new tools to aid in diagnosis, intervention and teaching, and to evaluate whether these are working
  • Translate research into effective solutions for doctors, teachers, therapists and parents, that promote learning and community participation
  • Benefit children and young people with learning difficulties, and their families


One of the earliest, flagship projects from the Centre was a research priority-setting exercise with the James Lind Alliance - the work of the SMRC is now governed by these priorities for learning difficulties research.

This project embodies the core values of the SMRC:

  • Directed by community priorities
  • Working in partnership with practitioners, young people, and families
  • Delivering highest-quality, world-leading research
  • Disseminating knowledge globally, while implementing findings locally
  • Sharing our knowledge with other scientists, and nurturing the research field
  • Using resources to maximum effect


Our vision is that learning difficulties should not mean educational disadvantage.

We want to ensure that children and young people with learning difficulties have every opportunity to thrive, before they start school, while they’re in education, and beyond. Differences in how people learn should be understood and accommodated, enabling people to have an enriching educational experience, and to fulfil their potential.

To achieve this, we believe that we need to paint a clear picture of the different factors that support effective learning. These factors include:

  • thinking skills
  • mental health
  • physical health
  • family relationships
  • social networks
  • environment

Understanding these factors can facilitate a positive experience of education and the transition into work for children and young people with learning difficulties.

The SMRC uses research from a range of academic subject areas, to generate new knowledge, and translate this into measures to improve the lives of children and young people with learning difficulties, enabling them to prosper.

The University of Edinburgh

The Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre is part of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. The core team of researchers are split across two locations, reflecting the wide-ranging nature of the research.  Our primary location and contact address is at Child Life and Health, in the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People. A secondary location is at the Division of Psychiatry, in Kennedy Tower at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

Core subject areas for the Centre include psychology, public health, education, paediatric medicine and psychiatry.

Research Methods

Research at the centre uses the following methods to generate new knowledge and inform practice:

  • Cohort studies and primary data - Working directly with children and young people to assess their skills, and see how these change across childhood, adolescence and into adulthood
  • Consultations, surveys, focus groups and interviews - Asking people directly about their opinions, experiences and attitudes, sometimes face-to-face, and sometimes online.
  • Experimental designs and observations - Creating carefully managed tests to explore thinking abilities – including working with babies and very young children.
  • Analysis of routine and secondary data - Looking at information collected by clinics, schools or community services to find out how whole generations of young people are learning, and to detect the effects of changes in policy.
  • Measure development and validation - Creating new ways to measure the things that are important – like quality of life, or self-belief.
  • Randomised controlled trials - This is the same method used to test whether a new drug is safe and effective.  We use this method to test new ways of supporting children and young people with learning difficulties.

Related links

Salvesen Mindroom Centre

James Lind Alliance

Reseach Priorities for Learning Difficulties

University of Edinburgh, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences


University of Edinburgh, Child, Life and Health

University of Edinburgh, Psychiatry