Ground-breaking heart research in Oxford has been given a multi-million pound boost thanks to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
The Oxford BHF Centre of Research Excellence, one of only six in the UK, has been awarded a further £6m by the charity to continue its work.
The Oxford Centre incorporates several University of Oxford departments and has a strong base at the John Radcliffe Hospital. It was set up in 2008 to ensure the UK remained a leading force in cardiac research on the global stage.
Centre director Professor Hugh Watkins said the latest award would act as a catalyst for further major funding by allowing new ideas to be explored.
Cardiovascular research in Oxford receives about £45m funding a year, from the British Heart Foundation, Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research, the NHS body that supports patient-centred research.
Prof Watkins, Field Marshal Alexander Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and a consultant cardiologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, added: “This latest award is fundamentally important because of its flexibility. It is only a few per cent of the total funding we need each year, but its value is far, far greater than that because it does allow us to chase down those exciting opportunities at the moment they arise.
“If you want to look at a new idea or test some new exciting hypothesis, you always need some evidence that it is a successful idea before you can get large amounts of funding for research.
The centre will continue to pioneer new understanding and treatment of heart disease in areas including genetics, regenerative medicine, stem cell biology and drug discovery as well as clinical research including imaging and randomised trials.
Professor Keith Channon, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Director of Research and Development at the Oxford University Hospitals Trust, said renewed investment would make a real difference to heart patients.
He added: “A significant strength of healthcare in Oxfordshire is the integration of clinical expertise with academic excellence.
“Embedding and integrating world leading university facilities across our hospital sites ensures we can support cutting edge research and move new knowledge, technology and treatments into clinics quickly and effectively.”
The BHF awarded a further £2m to Oxford University teams working on six additional cardiac research projects.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the BHF said: “Oxford is a melting pot of innovative research. Funding the Centre of Research Excellence here will ensure the University is a world leader in heart research. With the best and brightest minds on the job, we’ll be even closer to a world where people don’t die prematurely from heart disease.”