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Health and Healthcare Technologies Event University of Bath Katie Finch Medical Research Council 12 th May 2011. MRC mission. Encourage and support research to improve human health Produce skilled researchers

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Health and Healthcare Technologies Event

University of Bath

Katie Finch

Medical Research Council

12th May 2011

mrc mission
MRC mission
  • Encourage and support research to improve human health
  • Produce skilled researchers
  • Advance and disseminate knowledge and technology to improve the quality of life and economic competitiveness of the UK and worldwide
  • Promote dialogue with the public about medical research
recent achievements
Recent achievements
  • New therapies
    • MRC contribution to over 10% of global pipeline of therapeutic antibodies, including Humira®.
  • Clinical practice
    • Compression stockings have no effect preventing DVT in stroke patients: saves NHS £7m and 320,000 nursing hours a year;
    • Use of CBT in social recovery of schizophrenia patients with psychosis; review of evidence of increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Diagnostics
    • New cancer diagnostics based on test for minichromosome maintenance (MCM) proteins.
  • Screening programmes
    • Flexi-Scope bowel cancer screening to be rolled out over next four years.
  • Vaccines
    • MenAfriVac: 40¢ meningococcal meningitis vaccine received WHO prequalification in June 2010.
mrc funding
MRC funding

MRC gross research expenditure - £758.2m in 2009/10.

  • 279 new grants to researchers.
  • £366 million on grants and training awards in universities and medical schools.
  • £375 million for over 500 programmes in our research units and institutes.
  • Over 4,500 publications in peer-reviewed journals in 2009.
  • Licensing income receipts of £66.2 million:
    • over £500 million total cash generated since 1998.


  • 4,000 people employed in our units, institutes and centres.
  • Over 5,700 research active staff supported by the MRC.
  • £78.2 million on training and career development:
      • around 350 fellows and 1,500 postgraduate students.
partnership working
Partnership working

UK Government DepartmentsOSCHR

Research community

Patients and carers



UK Clinical Research Collaboration





Regulatory bodies

Research councils

Learned societies

Medical charities



coordinated public sector health research strategy
Coordinated public sectorhealth research strategy

HM Treasury




Devolved Administrations




Funding flow

Policy input

mrc remit and partners
MRC - basic research to early clinical trials

Underpinning and aetiological


Detection and Diagnosis

Treatment development and evaluation

Phase 1 & 2 trials

MRC remit and partners














Medical Charities


research changes lives
Research Changes Lives

MRC Strategic Plan 2009-2014

Over the next five years the MRC aims to support medical research which increases the pace of the transition to better health. We will achieve this through:

  • Strategic Aim One: Picking research that delivers
  • Strategic Aim Two: Research to people
  • Strategic Aim Three: Going global
  • Strategic Aim Four: Supporting scientists
research changes lives10
Research Changes Lives

1. Picking research that delivers: Setting research priorities which are most likely to deliver improved health outcomes

  • Research priority theme one: Resilience, repair and replacement
    • Natural protection
    • Tissue disease and degeneration
    • Mental health and wellbeing
    • Repair and replacement
  • Research priority theme two: Living a long and healthy life
    • Genetics and disease
    • Life course perspective
    • Lifestyles affecting health
    • Environment and health
research changes lives11
Research Changes Lives

2. Research to people: Bringing the benefits of excellent research to all sections of society

  • Translation of research
  • Regulation, ethics, governance and working with decision-makers
  • Communication

3. Going global: Accelerating progress in international health research

  • Partnerships and shaping the agenda
  • Global health

4. Supporting scientists: Sustaining a robust and flourishing environment for world-class medical research

  • Capacity
  • Use of population-based data
  • Research environment
spending review key messages
Spending Review–key messages
  • Overall Science and Research resource budget maintained at 2010/11 levels in cash terms
  • MRC resource expenditure will be maintained at 2010/11 level in real terms (~10% cash increase by 2014/15)
  • £220m capital to MRC from DH budget for UKCMRI construction costs
  • MRC capital budget reduced by 57%
spending review impact
Reform, Research Concentration, Economic Impact, Working in Partnership are all important themes on which we are expected to deliver

All ROs are expected to manage demand

Efficiency savings target for MRC: £53.3m by 2014/15, to be achieved in part by implementing Wakeham recommendations and pay restraint

Both targets will be very challenging

All MRC savings to be recycled into our science programmes

Spending Review–Impact
mrc delivery plan
MRC Delivery Plan
  • Strategic programmatic themes
    • Major activities that will rapidly deliver gains in health and wellbeing, together with increased economic impact.
  • National capability
    • Develop and sustain research infrastructure for delivering highest quality biomedical research, driving interdisciplinarity and engaging with partners.
  • Cross-council and multidisciplinary priorities
    • Lead on Lifelong Health and Wellbeing and work with other research councils on other priority challenges.
  • Other government initiatives
    • Translational medicine, NC3Rs, Stem cells, TSB
  • Skills base
    • Strengthen and sustain skilled researchworkforce, support future research leaders andrespond to industry needs for well-trainedresearchers.
strategic programmatic themes
New frontiers in biomedical research

Living a long and healthy life

Health research is global

Population health sciences

Stratified medicine

Regenerative medicine, stem cells and tissue repair

Systems medicine

Mental health and wellbeing

Lifestyle and behaviour: obesity, addiction

Healthy ageing

International leadership

Global health

e-Health research

Population-based cohorts

Public health infections research

Strategic programmatic themes
training and careers
Training and careers
  • Development of new postdoc collaborative fellowships with industry
  • Sustain support for MRC early and intermediate fellowships
  • Improve the attractiveness of MRC Senior Fellowships to the best candidates
    • Potentially open up MRC studentships to excellent EU students in strategic skills shortages
    • Survey: signals from students and early researchers
  • What is it? - turning discoveries into clinical benefits, while maintaining the basic research that drives it.
  • MRC’s translational strategy is:
    • building on the MRC’s existing role in pushing forward basic knowledge to improve people’s health and wealth;
    • strengthening the support and oversight of the translational processes.

Prototype discovery and design

Basic medical research

Late clinical trials

Early clinical trials

Pre-clinical development

translational research
Translational research
  • Overall spend on Managed Programs to Increase to £50 M pa by 2014 (have allocated £47 M since 2008)
    • Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme
    • Developmental Clinical Studies
    • Translational Stem Cell Research Committee
  • Developing novel ways of supporting translational activities
  • Enhance support for Experimental Medicine
  • Maximising best use of resources and infrastructure
  • Increasing the UK capacity/capability for translational research
working with industry
Working with industry
  • Widen our engagement and adapt to a changing innovation ecosystem
    • Pharmaceutical
    • Biotech
    • Devices and diagnostics
  • Research partnerships
    • Explore and fund innovative models of pre-competitive and collaborative research partnerships
    • Stratified Medicine and Systems Medicine agendas
    • Regenerative medicine
  • Health Sciences Collaborations, partnerships with TSB
    • Opportunities for MRC to add value and provide leadership
  • MRC leading for other research councils on engagement at policy level with Pharma companies
roles of boards and panels
Roles of Boards and Panels
  • Primary decision making bodies on MRC funding
    • Grants, Units and Institutes
  • Ensure balance of portfolio is right for area of responsibility
  • Shape strategy in their areas: directly, through Strategy Board and via interaction with Overview Groups
  • Join up with other bodies to ensure seamless support for science
  • Consider the impact and value of the research in their areas
boards and overview groups
Boards and Overview Groups

Strategy Board

Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board

Population and Systems Medicine Board

Infections and Immunity


Neurosciences and Mental Health


Population Health Sciences Group

Training programmes

Translational programmes

Translational Research Group

Global Health Group

Training and Careers Group


Types of Research Support

  • Question Driven
    • Research grant
  • Personal Support Driven
    • Fellowship
  • The project / programme
  • The people
  • The ‘place (s)’
  • The person
  • The project
  • The ‘place’

Which Scheme?

  • Standard “response mode” grants
    • Research grants
    • New investigator research grants
    • Programme grants
  • Strategic initiatives (Calls)
  • Personal support – variety of fellowships
  • Eligibility

MRC Fellowship Panels

Strategy Board

Training and Careers Group

Clinical Panel

Clinical Research Training Fellowship

Clinician Scientist Fellowship

Senior Clinical Fellowship

Non-Clinical Panel

Career Development Award

Senior Non-Clinical Fellowship

Strategic Panels

Biomedical Informatics Fellowships Panel

Career Development Award inBiostatistics / Methodology Research / Economics of Health / Population Health Scientist Fellowships Panel

mrc post doctoral fellowships non clinical clinical and some of strategic skill fellowships
MRC post doctoral fellowships Non Clinical, Clinical and some of Strategic Skillfellowships

Senior Non-Clinical

Career Development Award

Yrs Post PhD



Clinician Scientist

Senior ClinicalLectureship

Senior Clinical

Population Health Science

Bioinformatics, Biostats, Economics of Health

NIHR ‘Walport’ Lectureships aligned with MRC clinical fellowship schemes

Methodology Development


  • Note deadlines
  • Process – is there an outline or pre-sub stage?
  • Plan ahead – need apply 1 year in advance
  • Process time for grants i.e. time until a decision
    • usually 14 weeks (3 months) for applications declined at triage stage
    • within 23 weeks for a funding decision by a Board/Panel (6 months)
  • Start date is usually 6 months after funding decision
the challenge of an ageing population

The challenge of an ageing population

      • The Challenge
  • The UK’s population is ageing
  • Life expectancy has increased by 30 years in last century
  • Overall decrease in fertility rate
  • Currently one in six people is over 65 this will rise to one in four by 2033
  • Over 85s are the fastest growing segment of the population
  • Inequalities - life expectancy varies between UK regions by 14 years

The Drivers

Ageing is a major risk factor for disease and disability

Increased pressure on public services, welfare, health and social care – current models are unsustainable

Social and economic opportunities

lifelong health and wellbeing llhw
Lifelong Health and Wellbeing (LLHW)

Current major cross-Research Council programme in ageing

Strategic coordination of ageing research across the Research Councils

Supports research targeting factors throughout life that determine health and wellbeing in older age

  • LLHW Strategic Aims
    • Develop interventions that lead to improved health and quality of life in older age
    • Inform policy and practice including services and technologies to support independent living
    • Increase capacity and capability in ageing-relevant research
llhw joint funding initiative
LLHW Joint funding initiative

Funding partnership between five research councils and four health departments

Support for multi-disciplinary research addressing factors that influence health and quality of life in older age

Build capacity in multi-disciplinary ageing research community

£30m commitment since 2008 to three LLHW phases

strategy for collaborative ageing research in the uk
Strategy for Collaborative Ageing Research in the UK
  • Developed by Research Councils and UK Health Departments under LLHW programme – published September 2010


  • Identify opportunities for greater impact through cross-sector approaches
  • Build on existing strengths
  • Add value to initiatives and activities of individual funders
  • Create new partnerships, across academic disciplines and stakeholder communities – Government, private and third sector
  • Set priority areas for LLHW programme over CSR2011
priorities for csr 2011
Priorities for CSR 2011
  • Achieving good cognitive function and mental wellbeing in later life
  • Promoting physical health in older age
  • Extending healthy working lives
  • Enhancing mobility and independence in an ageing population
successful proposals
Successful proposals

Encompass the remit of more than one Research Council – creative multi-disciplinary approaches

Not usually supported by individual funders

Research excellence, impact and importance

Robust methodology and design

Add value to the programme

Encourage stakeholder engagement and capacity building

‘If you want to age well,

you should start early’

assessment process mrc
Assessment Process (MRC)

(short-listed applications only)

  • All short-listed applications are assessed by the Research Boards/Panels
    • Applicants can respond to the reviewers comments (Grants)
    • Discuss reviewers critique at interview (Fellowships)
  • applications scored (1-10)
  • feedback will be given on all applications reviewed by the Board/Panel
assessment process mrc39
Assessment process (MRC)

Referee Assessment (all grant and fellowship applications)

  • applications refereed – 3 - 5 reviewers
  • UK and International
  • applications scored (1-10)

Board/Panel Assessment (grants)

  • Triage (shortlisting)
    • allows Boards/Panel to focus on those proposals most likely to be funded
    • decisions are made based on the views of the reviewers & Board/Panel members
  • unattributed reviewers’ reports fed back to applicant
core assessment criteria grants
Core Assessment Criteria- Grants
  • importance
  • scientific potential
    • people and Track record
    • environment
    • research plans
  • resources (justification; good value for money)
  • ethical issues or risks to human participants
  • appropriate use of animals
  • Referees
  • Triage
  • Board
and finally
And finally…

Review internally

  • mentors for new applicants

Tip: get a second opinion, proof read & spell check

MRC is looking for quality not quantity


Your application will only be as strong as its weakest link



Need & Potential for Impact