New multimillion investment to help turn research discoveries into treatments for patients

  • National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) awards £19.8million to Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in partnership with the University of Leeds
  • The award from the NIHR represents the largest amount of research funding Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has received 
  • Three-fold increased funding to the NIHR Leeds Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) will capitalise on advances in technology, with the potential to improve patient outcomes and quality of care
  • The award represents an exciting step-change, to address urgent challenges of an ageing population, and the reality that patients do not live with just one disease but multiple conditions

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) in partnership with the University of Leeds (UoL) has been awarded a National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Leeds Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) with funding of £19.8million for five years.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has awarded nearly £800 million to 20 new Biomedical Research Centres across England, to translate scientific discoveries into new treatments, diagnostic tests and medical technologies to improve patients’ lives.

Biomedical research in the North and Midlands gets a significant funding boost, with nearly £250 million of the funding invested outside of London, Oxford and Cambridge. A new Biomedical Research Centre has been funded in the south west, increasing the coverage of early stage research across the nation and ensuring everyone has access to cutting edge clinical trials. 

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres 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. 

This fourth round of NIHR Biomedical Research Centre funding, awarded following an open and competitive process judged by international experts and members of the public, will support research over the next five years in areas such as cancer, mental health, dementia and infectious diseases. 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 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.”

Professor Philip Conaghan, Director of the new NIHR Leeds BRC and Professor of Musculoskeletal Medicine in the University of Leeds’ School of Medicine, said: “I am thrilled at the funding award of £19.8milllion by the NIHR for the Leeds BRC, which represents a three-fold increase. This will allow the foundation of sustained excellence that has been established in Leeds in musculoskeletal disease to now expand across research, in heart disease, cancer, and infection.

“This new BRC is an exciting step-change, reflecting the joint ambition of the strong Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and University of Leeds partnership, to address urgent clinical challenges of an ageing population, with the reality that patients do not live with just one disease but multiple conditions.

“Our vision is to drive impactful research led by patient need, with patients and the public at the heart of all activities. This can make a meaningful difference to patients and the public, particularly those who are most at need.

“I am also delighted to formalise our academic partnership with the University of York, bringing their expertise in haematology into the new BRC.”

Sir Julian Hartley, Chief Executive at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “I am delighted to hear the news of the funding award to the NIHR Leeds BRC. This increased level of funding will enable the BRC to capitalise on advances in technology, including harnessing advances in diagnostics, pathology, and therapeutic technologies including robotics, and artificial intelligence. This has the potential to improve patient outcomes and quality of care.

“The NIHR Leeds BRC is a vital part of the Trust and a key element in our academic collaboration with the University of Leeds and formalises a new partnership with the University of York. The BRC will enhance our joint work with the life sciences industry and further supports the development of an Innovation District with partner organisations across the City.”

Sue Watson, Chair of the NIHR Leeds BRC Patient and Public Involvement/ Engagement (PPIEP) Core Group said: “It’s such exciting news that the NIHR has funded the Leeds BRC for another five years. This will enable us to continue our excellent MSK research as well as increasing our research themes into other disciplines. This is good news for the City of Leeds and our wider communities. I am looking forward to continue to develop our PPIEP to a high standard for our public contributors and researchers alike.”

Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said: “This substantial investment in the University’s successful partnership with the Trust is wonderful news. It will enable us to foster even closer collaboration across our areas of expertise, and help to support our on-going work addressing health inequalities within our region.”

Eve Roman, Director of the Epidemiology and Cancer Statistics Group at the University of York (UoY), said “We are delighted to be part of this exciting new NIHR BRC venture, which marks a step change in ensuring research follows patient need.  Our participation formalizes the strong regional collaborations that exist across haemato-oncology, providing an effective setting within which to further develop and expand. 

“The University of York has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with both Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Leeds; and together with the Hull York Medical School (HYMS), we are now committed to ensuring the success of this timely initiative which addresses several key issues of concern to researchers, clinicians and patients.” 

A major component of the nation’s knowledge economy

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. 

Over the past 9 years, the BRCs have leveraged nearly £9 billion of funding from external organisations to undertake experimental medicine and early translational research. The centres have collaborated with almost 3,000 small and medium-sized companies, as well as 2,000 other partners in the life sciences industry. More than 11,800 patents have been generated by BRCs and 85 spin out companies, with intellectual property from the centres generating more than £800m in revenue.