Research institutions in Oxford will collaborate on healthcare research using £122 million in government funding.
A new partnership between the University of Oxford and Oxford University Hospitals, named NIHR Oxford BRC, will receive £86.6m over the next five years to fund 15 healthcare research themes. The NIHR Oxford Health BRC which is a partnership between the University and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (OHFT) will also receive £35.4m to support research across 11 themes.
Professor Helen McShane, Director of the NIHR Oxford BRC, said: “This funding is a recognition of the high calibre work done by our researchers in recent years, exemplified by establishing emergency stroke clinics, showing some shoulder surgery is not needed and optimising the use of new treatments for asthma and other airway diseases, as well as all the work during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the RECOVERY treatment trial for people with severe COVID-19, among other important trials, has saved millions of lives.
“As well as innovating to improve the treatment and care of NHS patients, our world-class scientists attract significant investment from commercial and charitable funders and our research shows that the BRCs play an important role in boosting the local economy, as well as the UK life science industry.”
What will the Oxford BRC cover?
The Oxford BRC originally covered the research areas of cancer, genomics, vaccines, diabetes, cardiovascular medicine and microbiology. The Oxford BRC was one of five original BRCs created in 2007. The Oxford Health BRC was created in 2017 as a centre that specialises in mental health and dementia.
The BRCs collaborate with academies and clinicians to translate scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies that benefit NHS patients.
Professor John Geddes, Director of the NIHR Oxford Health BRC, said: “The successful BRC application was a result of a huge amount of work involving patients and public, researchers and clinicians across Oxford and our partners across the country. It builds on the success of the current centre which has, over the past five years, delivered new psychological and digital treatments, advances in drug discovery and new ways of integrating research and clinical care.
“The new award now provides us with a wonderful opportunity to transform care for mental and brain health and wellbeing across the whole country and, actually, the world. We can now translate the best research from UK biomedical science, data science and engineering, social science and arts and the humanities for the benefit of clinical care and population health.
“We are enormously grateful to the NIHR and the International Panel for generously supporting our ambitious plans and vision. We are now looking forward to co-designing with patients and the public powerful new approaches that can be tested, refined and then implemented across the NHS and beyond.”
Funding healthcare research
The NIHR has awarded nearly £800m to 20 Biomedical Research Centres across England for healthcare research, following an open competition process which is judged by international experts and the public.
The £122m funding will support research in key areas in the next five years and provide new opportunities for a range of professionals to undertake research, and expand existing research expertise in allied health professionals such as doctors, radiologists and dieticians.
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.”