A four-year grant worth at least £9 million has been awarded to the NHS-university partnership of Royal Brompton & Harefield National Health Service Trust and Imperial College London to fund respiratory and cardiac Biomedical Research Units (BRUs) at the Trust.

The award comes from the UK’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and stems from the call for proposals issued by the NIHR in August 2007 to establish BRUs in six priority disease areas including cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

The Respiratory BRU at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust will take the form of an Advanced Lung Disease Unit providing clinical core facilities to accelerate the translation of current therapies into patient benefits.

The unit will also create six new consortia in key advanced lung diseases – specifically, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, chronic suppurative lung disease, sleep medicine, acute respiratory failure and interstitial lung disease – and will focus translational research on the common endpoint of these diseases, namely chronic lung failure.

The cardiovascular BRU will be a Cardiac Regeneration Unit, which will conduct research into new heart treatments using genes, stem cells, tissue engineering and devices. A significant portion of this work will involve cardiovascular genetics research using advanced cardiac imaging and Positron Emission Tomography (PET).