Landmark award for Greater Manchester’s devolved health system

£28.5m invested to pioneer lifesaving research and new treatments

Young scientist examining chemical substances in a laboratory.

A single Manchester bid has been awarded £28.5m by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) that will bring lifesaving tests and treatments a step nearer for millions of people.

Leading clinicians in the NHS and university researchers will benefit from new world class facilities and support services from the five-year NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) funding scheme – the largest ever investment into new health research.

The UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Chris Whitty, said: “The future of NHS care depends on the science we do now. This new funding will enable clinical researchers to keep pushing for medical breakthroughs.”

The prestigious new Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (MBRC) is a partnership between Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The University of Manchester, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, and University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, supported by the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC).


MAHSC is one of the UK’s six academic health science centres accredited by the Department of Health. It helps to improve the health of Greater Manchester’s 2.8 million population through the integration of leading research, excellence in medical and healthcare education, and outstanding patient care.

Professor Ian Greer, director of MAHSC, says the new centre will demonstrate the connectivity and collaboration that is central to making Greater Manchester devolution a success: “MAHSC was pivotal in delivering cross-partner leadership and management for the BRC bid and as work on the BRC research themes intensifies from April 2017, MAHSC will ensure a coordinated citywide approach, providing the vital connections to bring together learning and best practice across Greater Manchester.

“Through its Greater Manchester Research Hub, MAHSC provides a ‘One Manchester’ integrated approach for excellent and efficient research delivery.”


The MBRC will drive forward pioneering research in the areas of musculoskeletal disease, hearing health, respiratory disease, dermatology, and three cancer themes – prevention, radiotherapy and precision medicine.

The Manchester partnership impressed an international panel of experts with unique proposals that will accelerate the translation of early stage research into diagnostic tests and treatments to benefit patients in Greater Manchester and beyond. This will make Manchester ideally placed to attract further research investment that will give patients early access to ground-breaking new treatments and will deliver value to the economy.

Jon Rouse, Chief Officer of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership – the body overseeing the devolution of the £6 billion health and social care budget – said: “The new partnership approach under devolution means we have both the opportunity and the means to combine the talents of people from a whole range of areas to benefit our population. This hugely welcome funding is recognition that in Greater Manchester we can combine the best clinical skills with the best research, innovation and academic talent to take huge steps in improving the health and wellbeing of our people.”


Professor Ian Bruce will head the Manchester BRC. He added: “We will work closely with patients, using the latest advances in biology, medicine and health technology, to better predict disease and likely treatment responses. The diagnostic tests and therapies we develop will enable doctors to offer a more tailored approach and to better personalise treatments to the individual. We are also working on better ways to prevent disease developing in the first place.”

Sir Mike Deegan, Chief Executive of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, explained: “The achievement of a BRC for Manchester is a landmark moment which will see £28.5m directly invested into finding new ways of preventing, predicting and treating some of the major causes of premature death and disability.

“Bringing together our research expertise has only been made possible by the unique connectivity that devolution provides.”


Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President & Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: “The MBRC focuses the research efforts of the University and our NHS Partners so that we can address the considerable health needs of Greater Manchester. As the areas of research being targeted by the Centre represent complex global health issues our work also has the potential to have an impact much further afield.”

Roger Spencer, Chief Executive of The Christie, said: “Having a BRC that focuses on three areas of cancer research is to be warmly welcomed. Together with cutting edge advances in treatment such as the new proton beam therapy unit, The Christie is improving research into cancer which means we will be even better able to serve the health needs of this region.”

Awarding Biomedical Research Centre status to Greater Manchester, the NIHR panel described the academic and healthcare partnership’s research portfolio as “highly relevant to the health of patients and the public.”

The quality, volume and breadth of proposed translational research, known as experimental medicine, was excellent, and research capacity and capability was strong with very good plans for training.

The panel made special mention of Greater Manchester’s track record in translating advances in biomedical research into clinical research, and pulling this science through to directly benefit patients and the public, the health system, and for broader economic gain.

The partnership’s interactions with industry and charities, such as Cancer Research UK, are considered a particular strength of the new Manchester Biomedical Research Centre.

To find out more about the MBRC click here.

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