Greater Manchester awarded its largest ever research funding to tackle health inequalities and drive health improvements across the city region
The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) has received a £59.1million award - the largest single research award given by the NIHR to the city region - to translate its scientific discoveries into new treatments, diagnostic tests, and medical technologies to improve patients’ lives in Greater Manchester, and beyond, over the next five years.
Part of nearly £800 million awarded to 20 new Biomedical Research Centres across England by the NIHR, Greater Manchester’s award is part of a significant boost to the city-region, 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, while also providing opportunities for a diverse range of professionals to undertake research, expanding research expertise.
Formed in 2017 with a £28.5 million five-year award from the NIHR, Manchester BRC is the largest BRC outside the South East of England and brings together world-leading academic clinical researchers. Manchester BRC is hosted by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) and The University of Manchester (UoM), in partnership with The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust. With this new 2022-27 award, Manchester BRC will increase research capacity by expanding our partnership to include three new NHS trusts; Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The new funding also allows Manchester BRC to expand from our current research areas of cancer, dermatology, hearing health, musculoskeletal, and respiratory, into further areas of relevance to our diverse populations including heart disease, mental health, and rare conditions.
Professor Ian Bruce, Director of NIHR Manchester BRC, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this award from the NIHR – which more than doubles our previous award. This is a testament to our achievements over the past five years and also to our vision for the future; expanding both our research themes and our geographical reach. This will ensure that communities across our region’s urban, rural and coastal settings will now be able to participate in cutting-edge research. This award also allows us to further build our workforce to develop and deliver research across our region and to involve many more of our citizens and local patients in our research planning.
“We know that our region has high levels of deprivation and was disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which further widened health inequity. It is therefore imperative that Manchester BRC continues to bridge the gaps between new discoveries and personalised care, to ensure that we are levelling up health and care for all.
“I would like to thank everyone involved with our bid over the last two years. It has taken a monumental effort of hard work and dedication from our BRC Faculty and Core Team, and our partners, who were all singularly driven in our vision to drive health improvements and lasting change for all.”
This announcement is another example of the strength and depth of Greater Manchester’s provision as a world leading centre for biomedical and health research
Davine Forde, from Moss Side, is an Associate at the Manchester BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) Network CIC, and the Patient Involvement Representative for the Manchester BRC Governance Board. She said: “Manchester has some of the poorest health outcomes in the country, especially in ethnic minority communities. I want to be part of the solution to fixing this, and I’m delighted to be working with Manchester BRC who share that vision.
“Manchester BRC doesn’t just talk about equality – it lives it, by giving value to the lived experience of our diverse population and communities. We are not just patients, but partners on par with academics and clinicians to help overcome these problems. We can all learn from each other, and Manchester BRC’s commitment to inclusivity means we are on the road to discovery together.
“As an individual living with several long-term conditions, we may not find the treatments for my conditions, but the legacy of Manchester BRC will be improving health outcomes and reducing health inequalities for my children, and grandchildren.”
Sir Michael Deegan CBE, Group Chief Executive of MFT, said: “Clinical research and innovation are key to Greater Manchester’s reputation as a world-class healthcare setting. We are very proud to host one of the largest NIHR portfolios in the country as part of our ‘One Manchester’ vision, and the new expanded Manchester BRC will help us to deliver even more cutting-edge treatments to our patients in Greater Manchester, and beyond.”
President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, said: “This announcement is another example of the strength and depth of Greater Manchester’s provision as a world leading centre for biomedical and health research.
“This funding will further enhance the rightly deserved reputation for the city-region and contribute to improving the health outcomes and inequalities for our residents, and many more people beyond. As a University, we are extremely proud of the work we have done over the past five years as a fundamental part of the BRC collaboration and very much look forward to working with our partners in the future.”
Professor Graham Lord, Vice-President and Dean of The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, said: “Over the last five years we have been able to demonstrate that our clinical academic research not only provides excellence, but also value for money. Through our leveraged grant income, output of highly citated papers, and strategic collaborations with key industry partners, we have established Manchester BRC as a powerhouse of translational research.
“When we look back on this award, we will see it as critical upward turn for our entire ecosystem”
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Greater Manchester is big enough to matter, but small enough to know each other and driven enough to make a difference. Manchester BRC encapsulates this perfectly. Bringing together our brilliant clinical and academic minds to collaborate on the healthcare challenges our region faces, driving those discoveries through into treatments, and sharing them with the rest of the world.
“This is a truly exciting time for everyone in Greater Manchester, and Manchester BRC is pivotal to creating a better future for all of us.”
Paul Dennet, Salford City Mayor and Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership Chair, said: “Integrated care means starting with the person, understanding they’ll have different needs as they move through life, and connecting them with the right care. Manchester BRC’s mission is to bring new discoveries into individualised, personalised care, and I’m delighted this funding will allow for new research and treatments, improving the health, wealth and wellbeing of the 2.8 million people living in Greater Manchester”.
Sir Richard Leese, Chair, NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care (IC), said: “Manchester BRC’s award is a major boost to our research capabilities in the Integrated Care system and it provides us with a clear line of sight to help us deal with many of the major health and care needs of our city-region. It will also help us reduce many of the health inequalities that are evident in our diverse population.”
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.
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.”
Read more about the 2022 BRC funding announcement via the NIHR website.