Health and care research in Oxford is to receive £122 million in government funding over the next five years to improve diagnosis, treatment and care for NHS patients. The funding was awarded to the city’s two National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centres (BRC).
The NIHR Oxford BRC, a partnership between the University of Oxford and Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust, will receive £86.6m over the next five years to fund 15 research themes.
The NIHR Oxford Health BRC, a partnership between the University and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (OHFT), will receive £35.4m to support research across 11 themes and help create a network of centres of excellence in brain health across England.
The Oxford BRC – whose research covers a range of health themes including cancer, genomics, vaccines, diabetes, cardiovascular medicine and microbiology – was one of the five original BRCs created in 2007 and has just celebrated its 15th anniversary.
BRCs bring together academics and clinicians to translate scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies that benefit NHS patients.
Professor Helen McShane, Director of the NIHR Oxford BRC, said: “This funding is a recognition of the high calibre work done by our researchers in recent years, exemplified by establishing emergency stroke clinics, showing some shoulder surgery is not needed, and optimising the use of new treatments for asthma and other airway diseases, as well as all the work during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the RECOVERY treatment trial for people with severe COVID-19, among other important trials, has saved millions of lives.
“As well as innovating to improve the treatment and care of NHS patients, our world-class scientists attract significant investment from commercial and charitable funders and our research shows that the BRCs play an important role in boosting the local economy, as well as the UK life science industry.”
Professor Meghana Pandit, OUH Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Oxford is a vibrant academic medical hub, and the spirit of innovation permeates our clinical work, not least because of the presence of so many important University research institutes on our hospital sites.
“Patients in Oxford have access to the latest cutting-edge treatments and medical techniques which have been developed by BRC-funded scientists. We are, therefore, delighted that the Oxford BRC, and our partners in the Oxford Health BRC, have received substantial funding for the next five years.”
Gavin Screaton, Head of the University of Oxford’s Medical Sciences Division, said: “This is terrific news not only for our scientists in Oxford, but ultimately for patients across the UK and worldwide who will benefit from the discoveries and developments this funding enables.
“From the lab to the bedside, we have shown time and time again that our strong collaboration with our local NHS Trusts through the two BRCs is immensely valuable, and we greatly look forward to our partnership continuing to grow.”
In total, the NIHR has awarded nearly £800 million to 20 Biomedical Research Centres across England, following an open and competitive process judged by international experts and members of the public.
As well as supporting research over the next five years in areas such as cancer, mental health, dementia and infectious diseases, the new funding will provide opportunities for a diverse range of professionals to undertake research, expanding research expertise in allied health professionals – such as physiotherapists, radiologists and dietitians – as well as in doctors and nurses.
Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR, said: “Research by NIHR Biomedical Research Centres has led to a number of ground-breaking new treatments, such as new gene therapies for haemophilia and motor neurone disease, the world-first treatment for Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, a nose-drop vaccine for whooping cough, and the first UK-wide study into the long-term impact of COVID-19.
“This latest round of funding recognises the strength of expertise underpinning health and care research across the country and gives our nation’s best researchers more opportunities to develop innovative new treatments for patients.”
The NIHR Oxford BRC research themes for the next five years will be:
- Digital Health from Hospital to Home
- Genomic Medicine
- Modernising Medical Microbiology and Big Infection Diagnostics
- Life-saving Vaccines
- Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiovascular Medicine
- Translational Data Science
- Surgical Innovation, Technology and Evaluation
- Inflammation Across Tissues
- Metabolic Experimental Medicine
- Preventive Neurology
- Gene and Cell Therapy