Cutting edge medical research ideas to receive £23.3M boost

Posted by ap507 at Feb 15, 2016 12:55 PM |
University of Leicester wins support for ‘out of the box’ ideas

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 15 February

Research into new drugs at the University of Leicester has been boosted by government money. The University has been successful in obtaining grants totalling £1M from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to support research into new medicines.

Professor Andrew Tobin, Director of the Leicester Drug Discovery and Diagnostics Centre, said: "This money will go directly into our front line projects aimed at developing drugs that protect the heart during a heart attack and developing novel treatments for cancer”.

Professor Philip Baker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the Medical School at the University, added: “It is terrific that the government is willing to support drug discovery at Leicester. We have some of the world’s best scientists developing new medicines – with this funding we aim to bring new treatments to a range of illnesses from cardiovascular disease through to cancers such as lung and colon cancer.”

The Leicester Drug Discovery and Diagnostics Centre at the University of Leicester is a specialised centre dedicated to the development of new medicines. The Centre has links with many of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies including GlaxoSmithKline and Astra Zeneca. With highly trained staff and state-of-the-art research infrastructure the Centre is designed to progress the basic research projects conducted at the University into new medicines and treatments for patients.

The MRC is making a total of £23.3m awards of which Leicester has been successful in securing £1M in Confidence in Concept and Proximity to Discovery awards. The MRC is accelerating innovative medical research with funding to take ground-breaking ideas from UK universities into industry and out to patients.  

The announcement was made today by Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson. He said: “Our global scientific impact far exceeds our size as a nation, and our world class researchers help drive the engines of innovation keeping the UK at the forefront of new discovery. That is why we are protecting the science budget in real terms throughout this Parliament. This £23m fund provides invaluable support to help develop new ideas into the drugs and methods that will help save and improve lives.”

The awards were announced across three different funding initiatives, set up by the MRC to specifically target different innovation needs.

Another £11.6m of funding was announced for Confidence in Concept (CiC) awards in 21 universities.  These awards provide flexible funding to universities to accelerate the transition from discovery science to viability testing and take promising basic research to the industry-academia interaction stage for the development of therapies, diagnostics and medical devices.

In just three years since its launch, researchers whose preliminary work has been supported by the CiC scheme awards have secured £110m of further support from charity, public sector and industry funders.  The data generated has helped support the creation of 16 new spin-out companies and led to the award of at least 27 patents.

Professor Sir John Savill, chief executive of the MRC, said “The MRC funding awards announced today help to identify and encourage exciting science and bring different cultures together to form strong collaborations.  The early outcomes show that through devolved decision-making, researchers all over the UK have exploited the flexibility and collaborative potential of these innovative schemes for health benefits.

“Confidence in Concept and the Discovery awards allow research institutions to rapidly test out exciting new ideas in translational and basic research.  Experts at the institutions themselves decide which research projects to pursue, which creates the agility to support truly cutting-edge ideas and help them to attract further funding.  Proximity to Discovery is a smaller-scale scheme that helps academics form important connections with industry, enabling them to exchange skills and develop productive partnerships.”



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