Cambridge BRC receives £86.2 million to translate research discoveries into new treatments for patients

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has awarded £86.2 million to NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) investigators to continue their ground-breaking research, translating new scientific insights into state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatments to transform healthcare. The Cambridge funding is one of 20 such awards granted to leading NHS and University partnerships across the country.

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres bring together the expertise of academic research and healthcare professionals. The Cambridge centre is a partnership between Cambridge University Hospitals and the University of Cambridge, taking advantage of the respective strengths and expertise of both organisations to create the ideal environment for cutting-edge ‘translational’ research – where scientific discoveries from the laboratory are turned into experimental and clinical trials to show their benefit, and ultimately improve care. 

This is the fourth round of Biomedical Research Centre funding and builds on the outstanding research contributions of the past 15 years. Since its creation in 2007, the NIHR Cambridge BRC is recognised globally as a leading centre for translational research and is now one of the largest BRCs in England. It hosts world-leading experts in numerous specialties and state-of-the art infrastructure to conduct translational research.

The centre has already delivered medical breakthroughs including a new screening device to detect Barrett’s oesophagus, a condition that can lead to oesophageal cancer, the artificial pancreas to help patients with Type 1 Diabetes better manage their condition and the use of whole genome sequencing for rapid diagnosis of critically ill babies and children. NIHR Cambridge BRC also played a key role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through the ability to rapidly mobilise expertise and equipment to diagnose COVID-19, making major contributions to our understanding of the evolution of SARS-CoV2 variants, how the virus spreads through hospitals and other settings and leading on crucial trials to investigate new treatments to prevent long-term complications in survivors of COVID.

Realising the potential of cutting-edge research

NIHR Cambridge BRC theme leads and Prof. Miles Parkes, Director of NIHR Cambridge BRC (pictured centre)
Pictured, NIHR Cambridge BRC theme leads

The Cambridge Biomedical Campus hosts many world-leading experts and research institutes, together with the renowned hospitals of Addenbrooke’s, the Rosie and the Royal Papworth. The NIHR Cambridge BRC brings together these researchers and institutions to focus on translating their discoveries into new diagnostics and treatments.

Over the next five years, Cambridge will continue research in areas such as cancer, dementia and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as focusing on developing areas of technology that will likely revolutionise NHS care in the coming years, such as artificial intelligence (AI), genomic medicine and new state of the art imaging techniques.

The funding also provides opportunities for a diverse range of professionals to undertake research, building a new generation of leading researchers – including expanding research expertise in allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, radiologists and dietitians.

Professor Miles Parkes
Professor Miles Parkes, Director NIHR Cambridge BRC

Professor Miles Parkes, Director of NIHR Cambridge BRC said: “The NIHR Cambridge BRC has been instrumental in delivering many exciting advances over the past 15 years, building on Cambridge’s historic strengths in discovery science and translating these into improved diagnostics and treatments.

“Together with our clinical partners, our diverse pool of world-leading scientists and first-class research facilities make the Cambridge Biomedical Campus an ideal place to conduct ground-breaking translational research.

“This new funding reflects confidence in the continued innovation, strength and dedication of our research teams. Over the next five years we will be particularly focusing on early detection and the changes that lead to disease, so we can aim to prevent and reverse serious health conditions before irreversible damage occurs. We will leverage our strengths in genomic medicine and data science to support this research and work with patients and investigators regionally and nationally, to deliver world-class translational research and improve health outcomes.’’

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.”

NIHR Cambridge BRC themes

Watch this short video to find out what our research themes are and the work we will be doing over the next five years.

Read the full press release from the Department of Health.

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