Launch event marks multi-million-pound investment into research across Greater Manchester, Lancashire and South Cumbria to help improve lives
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, officially opened a successful launch event to celebrate the multi-million-pound funding boost for the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility (CRF).
Manchester BRC received a £59.1 million award from the NIHR for 2022-27 – the largest single research award given by the NIHR to the city region and more than double the previous award – to translate scientific discoveries into new treatments, diagnostic tests, and medical technologies to improve patients’ lives in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Manchester CRF was awarded £15.5 million by the NIHR for 2022-27 – a 24 per cent uplift on 2017-2022 and the largest funding award given to a CRF by the NIHR – to boost the delivery of innovative clinical trials across phases, treatment types and conditions, throughout Greater Manchester.
To mark this new round of funding, the official launch of the Manchester BRC and Manchester CRF 2022-27 was held at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester in March.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, officially opened the event, followed by key speakers Professor Ian Bruce (Director of NIHR Manchester BRC), Professor Jacky Smith (Director of NIHR Manchester CRF), Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell (President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester), Professor Jane Eddleston, Group Joint Medical Director at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust), Professor Dermot Kelleher (Chair of the NIHR Manchester BRC International Scientific Advisory Board), and Nazir Afzal OBE (Chancellor of The University of Manchester).
With its new funding, Manchester BRC – hosted by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) and The University of Manchester – is increasing research capacity by expanding its partnership to include five NHS trusts; Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust.
The five-year award also allows Manchester BRC to further expand its research themes, within the areas of cancer (prevention and early detection, radiotherapy, personalising cancer medicines and living with and beyond cancer) inflammation (arthritis and related conditions, chest diseases, skin disorders and heart disease) high burden under researched conditions (hearing health, mental health and rare conditions) and disease complexity (new ways to diagnose illnesses and developing new treatments).
With a vision of providing opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to take part in clinical research across Greater Manchester, the new funding will enable Manchester CRF to further grow its experimental medicine provision, within MFT and with partners at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust.
Manchester CRF’s world-class facilities and staff are now operating at six sites across Greater Manchester: The Christie, Manchester Royal Infirmary, North Manchester General Hospital, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Salford Royal Hospital and Wythenshawe Hospital.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “This is a hugely significant milestone in the building of a 21st century research-based economy in Greater Manchester. I am pleased to see the broad areas of research being focussed on, which includes mental health. We have a new reality when it comes to the health of the nation post-pandemic, and cutting-edge research will enable us to understand what it takes to build a healthier population. If we can make our research ever more relevant to the times we live in and the health challenges we face, then we will continue to build that success story right here in Greater Manchester.”
Professor Ian Bruce, Director of NIHR Manchester BRC, said: “We have had an incredible journey over the last 10 to 12 years, growing from a single speciality Biomedical Research Unit, to where we are today – the largest BRC outside the South East of England. This success has only been achieved thanks to a monumental team effort. We have been able to bring together many more world-leading researchers, increase our research themes and expand our geographical reach across Greater Manchester, Lancashire and South Cumbria. This will enable us to make real advances towards improving patients’ lives and reducing health inequalities.”
Professor Jacky Smith, Director of NIHR Manchester CRF, said: “It is amazing to think that from a single CRF, we now operate six world-class facilities at NHS teaching hospitals across Greater Manchester. As a proud partner within the Greater Manchester, North West, and national research and innovation infrastructure, this collaborative approach means Manchester CRF can now provide our diverse communities with even more opportunities to take part in clinical research. This success was only possible thanks to tremendous teamwork and our shared goal; that by reducing health inequalities, we can help people to live better lives.”
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: “The University of Manchester is very proud to be a key part of this. Manchester has received the largest increase in funding of any BRC across the country. This has been made possible by three things: incredible longstanding partnership and collaboration; vision and ambition; and amazing leaders. I don’t know anywhere else in the UK, or in the world, where there is the strength of that partnership – across the University, the NHS trusts, regional government, other regulators and many other organisations. Together with that ambition, vision and leadership, this has led to the success we are rightly celebrating.”
Professor Jane Eddleston, Group Joint Medical Director at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), said: “Research and innovation has been at the heart of everything we have done in our 350-year history – at MFT and at our predecessor Trusts – and we are absolutely delighted to be part of this journey. We are so proud of the benefits it has given over the last five years – from discovery, to development, through to delivery and the benefits for our patients. This next phase is so exciting because it will allow us to take this across the North West, for the whole of the population to benefit from the opportunity to take part in research.”
Professor Dermot Kelleher, Chair of the NIHR Manchester BRC International Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB) and Dean of Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, said: “Manchester BRC has become a true leader of translational research not just in the UK, but internationally. This award is truly outstanding, but it is not unexpected, given the very real commitment of all the partners. It was evident from the very first meeting of the ISAB that all those involved – from Greater Manchester, the NHS and The University of Manchester – were in this together with the intention of driving successful translational research, striving towards health equality and putting the patients of Greater Manchester, and now beyond in Blackpool and Lancashire, at the centre of the BRC.”
Closing remarks were delivered by Nazir Afzal OBE, Chancellor of The University of Manchester. He said: “This award is the continuation of an extraordinary journey and I share the pride of everyone who is part of Manchester BRC and Manchester CRF, at what they have achieved so far and what they will undoubtedly achieve in the years ahead. The focus on reducing health inequalities, sharing this research, and ultimately preventing people from harm is so important. I hope the people of this country, and of the world, can look to what the BRC and CRF are going to deliver to keep them safe.”
The event was attended by academic and clinical research delivery and operational staff from Manchester BRC, Manchester CRF and The University of Manchester, colleagues from partner Trusts, industry associates and Greater Manchester dignitaries.
Watch the video below to find out more about Manchester BRC and its vision for driving forward health improvements and lasting change for all through creative, inclusive and proactive research:
Watch the video below to find out more about Manchester CRF and the difference research can make to patients both now and in the future:
Hear from the keynote speakers on the launch event recording on Vimeo: