Previous ISSF success

logo1. Research Centres & Institutes. The ISSF1 award enabled us to establish four new Research
Centres that have been key to research strategy development at Leicester. Firstly, the Leicester
Drug Discovery and Diagnostics Centre (LD3, previously Centre for Translational
Therapeutics), led by Prof Andrew Tobin and now by Dr Alasdair Gaw, has established a core-funded team whose mission is to progress Leicester’s world-leading basic biomedical and clinical research into translational projects that lead to novel therapies. This has gone on to leverage external funding from the MRC  (£3.13M) and a number of large academic, charity and commercial partners, including MRC-T, CRT and GSK
(£1.2M). Secondly, support for the Structural Biology Centre contributed to a £2.2M WT Senior Investigator Award to Prof John Schwabe, and continued enterprise funding of >£2M from UCBCelltech to Prof Mark Carr, and a £1.7M CRUK Centres Network Accelerator Award in structure based cancer drug discovery. The remaining two Centres, the Data-to-Knowledge-to-Practice D2K2P) Centre and Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Support Hub, are providing core informatics support for interrogating and integrating the enormous volumes of research and health data that underpin modern medicine. Together, the success of these four Centres has culminated in the launch of two new interdisciplinary Research Institutes in July 2016, the Leicester Precision Medicine Institute and Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology.

2. Strengthening our partnership with the University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL) NHS Trust.
The ISSF1 award supported many biomedical research projects that enhanced the translational and clinical research infrastructure at Leicester and allowed us to better align the research missions of the University and NHS Trust. We have three NIHR-funded Biomedical Research Units (BRUs) in Leicester: in Cardiovascular Disease, Respiratory Disease, and (joint with Loughborough) Diet, Lifestyle and Exercise, now consolidated with an award of a single NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). Funding for the Leicestershire-Northamptonshire-Rutland (LNR) East Midlands CLAHRC was renewed in 2013 and a new CRUK Leicester Cancer Centre was awarded in 2014. These five outstanding experimental medicine hubs, together with a prestigious £2.7M MRC Molecular Pathology Node in Breathomics, form the disciplinary focus for the new Leicester Precision Medicine Institute, an equal partnership between the University of Leicester and UHL
NHS Trust. Importantly, this Institute has a specific focus on Ethnic Health, which is a key priority area of this ISSF3 application. In 2012, we opened the new Central Research Facility (CRF) for in vivo pre-clinical studies, equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure funded through a WT capital award, which has been used for many ISSF1 projects. Furthermore, the growing synergy in biomedical research and teaching facilitated by ISSF led to the University investing in a£42M Centre for Medicine, opened in 2016, that serves as a focus for community engagement and is closely linked to the Attenborough Arts Centre.

3. Enhancing The Social Sciences and Medical Humanities. Though ISSF1 funds were notspecifically allocated to Social Science and Humanities projects, institutional investment has led to establishment of a new interdisciplinary Medical Humanities Research Centre in 2012 that brings together historians, sociologists and academics from Management and English. Other relevant research groups established in that period include the Health and Public Policy Evaluation Network (HAPPEN) in Economics and the Health Communication Research Group in Media & Communications. These will benefit directly from funding under ISSF3.

4. Building Capacity and Supporting Early Career Researchers (ECRs). ISSF1 funds enabled capacity building through supporting new senior and junior appointments in priority areas including Structural Biology, Respiratory, Microbial Science and Cancer. Academics funded by ISSF1 obtained many large externally funded grants, and completed work for high quality publications. Similarly, the matched funding used to purchase infrastructure supported a wealth of research outputs and impact. ISSF1 support also helped many ECRs establish themselves as independent scientists.

5. Public Engagement. For the past 10 years, we have run enormously successful annual events,such as Brain Awareness Day and Dynamic DNA, which brings 600 pupils and teachers into the University for an exciting day of learning around genetics and health. We used ISSF1 to expand his activity with new displays and equipment, and develop new hands-on activities around cancergenetics. Funds were also made available for ECRs to gain  experience of public engagement, for example Dr Emma Chung used musicians on Great Central Railway steam trains to explain the Doppler effect to the public and how it can be used to monitor blood-flow in the brain. More broadly, ISSF1 investment contributed to a better appreciation of public engagement University-wide, and new commitment to public engagement posts.

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