Manchester is the site for the latest addition to the network of Biomedical Research Centres (BCRs) created by the UK government under the umbrella of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The new centre recognises “the international research excellence” of the existing partnership between the Central Manchester & Manchester Children’s University Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Manchester, noted the Department of Health (DoH).

The NIHR Biomedical Research Centre in Manchester joins the 11 National Health Service (NHS) trusts and their academic partners already awarded BRC status in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Liverpool and Newcastle. According to the DoH, these are “among the most outstanding centres of medical research in the world”.

A four-year programme of research at the Manchester Centre will include harnessing genetic technologies to improve diagnosis and/or treatment in areas such as sudden cardiac death, developmental disease, complex inflammatory disease, complications of pregnancy, neurofibromatosis and adverse drug reactions.

Mike Deegan, chief executive of Central Manchester & Manchester Children’s University Hospitals NHS Trust, commented: “This momentous decision means we can now embark on the final phase of a massive transformation project. Alongside our £500 million investment in new hospital buildings and facilities, the Trust and University will be able to deliver world-class research that benefits patients both locally and globally.”

R&D strategy
The NIHR was launched in April 2006 as a central component of the NHS research and development strategy introduced by the UK government in January of that year under the banner of ‘Best Research for Best Health’. The NIHR Biomedical Research Centres focus on translational research that takes scientific breakthroughs out of the laboratory and into the clinic.

BCR status is awarded on an open-competition basis by a panel of international experts. The key selection criteria are existing research excellence and critical mass as well as a track record of excellence in partnership, including tie-ups with industry.

The Department of Health has also announced that 25 research teams will receive a total of £42 million in funding from the NIHR under the Programme Grants for Applied Research scheme. Areas to be investigated cover a wide range of chronic and debilitating health conditions including angina, skin disease and long-term neurological conditions.