NIHR | Manchester Biomedical Research Centre

Bridging the Gap – December 2022

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Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Maya Angelou

Welcome to my December blog. Today 1 December 2022 – is the official launch date of our new NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

We had a formal announcement of our funding success in October after our interview in April this year. As I touched on in our funding announcement, this BRC has been over two years in the making and I just want to reiterate my sincere thanks to everyone involved for their hard work and commitment throughout.

This is an incredibly exciting time for our BRC. The new award not only demonstrates our existing excellence and expertise in experimental medicine and translational research and what we have achieved in the current funding cycle, but also the NIHR’s faith in our continued effort to deliver on our vision of driving health improvements and lasting change for all through creative, inclusive and proactive research.

Our new BRC has been awarded £59.1 million – an increase of just over £30 million from our 2017-22 award – which will allow us to expand our research capacity both in terms of new themes but also in terms of developing our research workforce. With that, I would like to welcome new readers to this blog from our new research themes in Cardiovascular, Living With and Beyond Cancer, Mental Health, Next Generation Phenotyping and Diagnostics, Next Generation Therapeutics, and Rare Conditions. Alongside our existing partners Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), The University of Manchester (UoM), The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, we are also pleased to welcome our new partners into the BRC; Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Through this strategic expansion in themes and new partners, we will bring pioneering clinical research to even more communities across the urban, rural and coastal populations in the North-West. I look forward to welcoming new colleagues into our BRC, and forging new and successful collaborations across our region in the years ahead. A key aim of our BRC will be to continue building a research 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 inequities. 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.

Today we are looking forward to the exciting future of our new BRC. It is also important, however, to reflect on our recent achievements which established solid foundations on which we can build. I therefore want to share with you some of the outstanding performance metrics delivered by our more than 430 staff and 43 PhD studentships from April 2017 until the end of March 2022:

  • Research Publications: 2,543
  • Participants recruited: 87,488
  • Research projects: 294
  • Strategic Partnerships: 104
  • Small and Medium Enterprises worked with: 85
  • Patient and Public contributors: 935
  • Leveraged income: £293,377,331 (more than 10x our NIHR award)

All of these achievements were only possible because of the vision and commitment of everyone that has worked as part of Manchester BRC over the last five years; from our BRC Faculty and Core Team, to our partners, who were all singularly driven towards our common goal to drive health improvements and lasting change for all.

I would also like to offer my sincere thanks to Paul Mortimer and Marie McDevitt who have served with great distinction as our patient representatives as part of our Executive Group since 2017. Their input has been invaluable and pivotal in shaping both what we have achieved so far, and what we hope to achieve in our future.

Finally, a huge thank you to our patients and research participants who have been part of our studies over the last five and half years. Through our award-winning Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) we have been able to serve, engage, and learn from our public and I’m delighted with how our patient groups have truly shaped our vision and focus.

I would like to finish by quoting our Patient Involvement Representative for the Manchester BRC Governance Board, Davine Forde, who as part of our announcement communications said: “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.” I can’t think of a better way to sum up what we have, and what we will achieve as NIHR Manchester BRC.

This is an incredibly exciting moment for all of us and I look forward to continuing success over the next five years.

Take care,

Professor Ian N Bruce

Director, NIHR Manchester BRC