The Department of Health & Social Care has today awarded Newcastle £23.1m of funding for its world-leading research in ageing and multiple long-term conditions.
The funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is for the Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) which combines world-class strengths in ageing and multiple long-term conditions research with extensive experimental medicine infrastructure. The investment will support a five-year programme delivered by Newcastle Hospitals, Newcastle University and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust to better understand and treat a range of conditions for patients in the UK and beyond.
The award, which continues a 15-year track record of Newcastle hosting a NIHR BRC, is part of a £790 million investment in NHS research and Newcastle is amongst the 20 NHS and University partnerships across England to have been awarded funding to translate scientific discoveries into new treatments for patients. BRCs are partnerships between healthcare professionals and academics in the country’s leading NHS trusts and universities. The centres, part of NIHR’s research infrastructure, receive substantial levels of sustained funding to attract the best scientists and create an environment where experimental medicine can thrive.
Professor Avan Aihie Sayer, Director NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre & William Leech Professor of Geriatric Medicine said:
“We are absolutely delighted with this NIHR Biomedical Research Centre award – our fourth successful application in national competition. The funding and BRC designation are testimony to the excellence of our research and strength of our partnership. Our vision is to transform lives through world-leading research in ageing and multiple long-term conditions and crucially the views of patients and local communities have been central to its development. This means that our research can continue to deliver real impact that meets the needs of patients.
One in four people in England are living with multiple long term health conditions and whilst these can develop at any age, they become more common and burdensome in later life. This major investment from NIHR will allow us to continue to address their adverse effects on health and I am particularly pleased that this award will give us the opportunity to develop the much needed interdisciplinary researchers of the future right here in Newcastle and the North East.”
Dame Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive for the Newcastle Hospitals added:
“We are delighted that our Biomedical Research Centre has again been successful in securing significant funding to continue to deliver world-class translational research into ageing and multiple long-term conditions in the North East.
Research creates a better future for our patients, staff, and communities and creates important scientific breakthroughs and the discovery of new treatments. But beyond that, research helps to improve patient care and patient experience for everyone, and also helps us to attract and retain our outstanding workforce.”
This fourth round of Biomedical Research Centre funding, awarded following an open and competitive process judged by international experts and patients, will support research over the next five years in areas such as dementia, mental health and liver disease. The new funding will also 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.
The NIHR currently funds 20 BRCs, 12 of which have received additional investment in this new funding round. Over the past nine years, the BRCs have supported almost 60,000 studies and published 55,000 research papers, as well as supported the career development of more than 14,000 junior doctors and research scientists.
Professor David Burn, Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University and Director of Newcastle Health Innovation Partners said:
“It is fantastic that the NIHR have continued their long-standing investment in our Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre. It is further recognition of our outstanding research and ability to take that research from discoveries in the laboratory through into new treatments in the NHS that benefit, not only our local population, but people nationally and internationally too.
“The North East has a rapidly growing older population with high levels of poverty. This has major impact not only on people’s everyday lives, but also on the NHS and the local economy. The new BRC award is an important part of our ongoing work as Newcastle Health Innovation Partners to improve the health and wellbeing of our population, as well as boosting the economy of our region.”
The Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest mental health and disability trusts in England, has joined the BRC as a formal partner for the first time in this new award.
James Duncan, Chief Executive of the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust added:
“We are delighted to have joined the NIHR Newcastle BRC as a formal partner for the first time. As an NHS Trust we recognise that research and innovation are critical to addressing the challenges that both our patients and the wider NHS face. Our world leading research in Lewy Body Dementia and mood disorders already has a real impact on patient care, through the innovative clinical practice it brings locally and through the influence it has on national and international clinical guidelines.
We are thrilled that this award will continue to grow and develop this work and also strengthen the ability of the NIHR Newcastle BRC to study the effect of poor mental health on single and multiple long-term conditions.”
The NIHR Newcastle BRC is a partnership between Newcastle Hospitals, Newcastle University and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. The BRC works closely with other NIHR partners across the North East of England including the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) for the North East and North Cumbria, the NIHR Newcastle Clinical Research Facility and the NIHR Clinical Research Network North East North Cumbria.
How BRCs are supporting innovative research
The NIHR invests significantly in people, centres of excellence, collaborations, services and facilities to support health and care research in England. Collectively these form the NIHR infrastructure.
NIHR infrastructure funding supports the country’s leading experts to develop and deliver research funded by the NIHR, other public funders, charities and the life sciences industry. In doing so, its investment plays a crucial role in underpinning research in England and supporting economic growth.
The 20 existing BRCs have had a key role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sustained, long term funding they have received meant that resources could be mobilised quickly to help diagnose and treat COVID-19 and support vaccine research.
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.”