About our translational research
Translation is the principle of turning fundamental discoveries into improvements in human health and economic benefit. MRC’s translational aims – to drive innovation, speed up the transfer of the best ideas into new interventions, and improve the return on investment in fundamental research – and objectives are outlined in the MRC Strategic plan. Our role in supporting translational research has been developed in partnership with the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR), involves close working with organisations such as NIHR and Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board - TSB), and reflects government strategies such as the Strategy for UK Life Sciences. Oversight and guidance on MRC’s activities in this area is provided by the Translational Research Group (TRG).
Translation funding programmes
Targeted funding schemes, designed to take fundamental discoveries through pre-clinical and clinical development to human proof-of-concept studies, lie at the core of our approach to supporting translational research.
Announced as part of the Strategy for UK Life Sciences, the Biomedical Catalyst (BMC) is an integrated translational programme operated in partnership with Innovate UK that supports academic (MRC) and industry scientists (Innovate UK) in moving their research more quickly from discovery to commercialisation.
The programme builds on and enhances MRC’s Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme and Regenerative Medicine Research Committee funding models, providing support to academic research ranging from product definition through to phase 2a clinical studies:
- Funding to support the initial steps on the translational path is available to universities via the BMC: Confidence in Concept scheme.
- Project funding to support pre-clinical development and early clinical testing of novel therapeutics, devices and diagnostics, including “repurposing” of existing therapies is available through the BMC: Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS) and, in the case of novel regenerative medicine approaches, the BMC: Regenerative Medicine Research Committee (RMRC).
In addition the Biomedical Catalyst, MRC supports the following translational schemes:
- Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme: Supports late stage clinical evaluation of therapeutics, devices and diagnostics where proof-of-concept in humans has already been achieved. It is funded by the MRC and managed by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
- Methodology Research Programme (MRP): In partnership with the NIHR we fund methodology research to underpin biomedical sciences, experimental medicine, clinical trials, population health sciences, health services research and health policy.
Translational initiatives and industry collaborations
Partnership working lies at the heart of much of what MRC does and we recognise the important role collaborations, particularly those with industry, can play in helping to meet our priorities of translating research into healthcare improvements and enhancing economic prosperity. As well as enabling applications from academic/industry collaborations to be submitted to any of our research funding schemes through the MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA) we working closely with industry in areas of key strategic importance. Examples of such initiatives include:
- Stratified medicine consortia: In co-ordination with multiple partners we have established disease-specific consortia to bring together the best academic and industry researchers from across the UK to tackle diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
- Experimental Medicine: We are also targeting further investment in experimental medicine, addressing big challenges in the understanding of disease mechanisms in humans and engaging with industry to stimulate partnerships in this area.
- MRC/AstraZeneca Mechanisms of Human Disease: This world leading and award winning partnership provided academic researchers with unprecedented access to high quality clinical and pre-clinical compounds, the building blocks of new drugs. The initiative aimed to support research to better understand a spectrum of diseases with a view to exploring new treatments.