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NIHR announces nearly £800m to turn research into new treatments

Published: 14 October 2022

The NIHR has awarded nearly £800 million to 20 Biomedical Research Centres across England, to translate scientific discoveries into new treatments, diagnostic tests and medical technologies to improve patients' lives.

Biomedical research in the North and Midlands gets a significant funding boost, with nearly £250 million of the funding invested outside of London, Oxford and Cambridge. A new Biomedical Research Centre has been funded in the South West, increasing the coverage of early stage research across the nation and ensuring everyone has access to cutting edge clinical trials. 

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres are partnerships between healthcare professionals and academics in the country’s leading NHS trusts and universities. The centres, part of NIHR’s research infrastructure, receive substantial levels of sustained funding to attract the best scientists and create an environment where experimental medicine can thrive. 

This fourth round of NIHR Biomedical Research Centre funding, awarded following an open and competitive process judged by international experts and members of the public, will support research over the next five years in areas such as cancer, mental health, dementia and infectious diseases. The new funding will also provide opportunities for a diverse range of professionals to undertake research, expanding research expertise in allied health professionals - such as physiotherapists, radiologists and dietitians - as well as in doctors and nurses.  

The NIHR currently funds 20 BRCs, 12 of which have received additional investment in this new funding round. Over the past nine years, the BRCs have supported almost 60,000 studies and published 55,000 research papers, as well as supported the career development of more than 14,000 junior doctors and research scientists. 

Health and Social Care Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Thérèse Coffey said:

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of our booming research sector and the potential it has to not only strengthen health and care services, but lead to lifesaving developments.

“This additional funding will harness the UK's world leading innovation and allow research centres up and down the country to attract experts in their field and conduct research that saves lives.

“From helping develop the Covid vaccine to discovering world-first treatments, these centres have already delivered ground-breaking research and will continue to help us tackle some of the biggest health challenges we face, including cancer, to ensure the NHS continues to deliver world-class care.”

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR, said: 

“Research by NIHR Biomedical Research Centres has led to a number of ground-breaking new treatments, such as new gene therapies for haemophilia and motor neurone disease, the world-first treatment for Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, a nose-drop vaccine for whooping cough, and the first UK-wide study into the long-term impact of COVID-19.

“This latest round of funding recognises the strength of expertise underpinning health and care research across the country and gives our nation’s best researchers more opportunities to develop innovative new treatments for patients.”

A major component of the nation’s knowledge economy

The NIHR invests significantly in people, centres of excellence, collaborations, services and facilities to support health and care research in England. Collectively these form the NIHR infrastructure.

NIHR infrastructure funding supports the country’s leading experts to develop and deliver research funded by the NIHR, other public funders, charities and the life sciences industry. In doing so, its investment plays a crucial role in underpinning research in England and supporting economic growth.  

Over the past 9 years, the BRCs have leveraged nearly £9 billion of funding from external organisations to undertake experimental medicine and early translational research. The centres have collaborated with almost 3,000 small and medium-sized companies, as well as 2,000 other partners in the life sciences industry. More than 11,800 patents have been generated by BRCs and 85 spin out companies, with intellectual property from the centres generating more than £800m in revenue.

Supporting innovative research for COVID-19 and beyond 

The 20 existing BRCs have had a key role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sustained, long term funding they have received meant that resources could be mobilised quickly to help diagnose and treat COVID-19 and support vaccine research.

For example, BRC researchers have helped to understand immune responses to COVID-19 and vaccines, developed a new bedside molecular test for COVID-19, investigated how the virus affects ethnic minority healthcare workers, and worked with Formula 1 engineers to create and roll out life-saving breathing machine to prevent patients from needing intensive care.

The impressive BRC track record of research runs over more than 15 years, with study findings improving care for patients. Researchers at the NIHR The Royal Marsden BRC showed that a one-week course of radiotherapy administered through fewer but larger daily doses was as safe and effective as standard care in women with early stage breast cancer. International guidelines subsequently recommended immediate adoption of this new approach, with the proportion of women with breast cancer receiving this new radiotherapy regimen increasing from less than 1% to 60% in a year.

Ultrasound was shown to improve detection of muscle wasting in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, in research by the NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre. This method is now being used to assess muscle loss in a national long COVID study funded by NIHR.

Over in Newcastle, BRC researchers have launched the UK arm of a global gene therapy study in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The study is the first time gene therapy has been given in the UK to a patient with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disease for which there are currently no approved treatments that target the disease itself rather than ease symptoms.

  • Read more about NIHR Biomedical Research Centres

NIHR BRCs 2022-2027 

Name  Host Institution  University Partner 
NIHR Barts Biomedical Research Centre Barts Health NHS Trust Queen Mary University of London
NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust University of Birmingham
NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust University of Bristol
NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust University of Cambridge
NIHR Exeter Biomedical Research Centre Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust University of Exeter
NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust University College London
NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Imperial College London
NIHR Leeds Biomedical Research Centre Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust University of Leeds
NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre University Hospitals Of Leicester NHS Trust University of Leicester
NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust University of Manchester
NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust King's College London
NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust University College London
NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Newcastle University
NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust University of Nottingham
NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust University of Oxford
NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust University of Oxford
NIHR The Royal Marsden Biomedical Research Centre Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust The Institute of Cancer Research
NIHR Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust University of Sheffield
NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust University of Southampton
NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust University College London

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