Research

Strategic Aim One:

Picking research that delivers

Strategic Aim Two:

Research to people

Strategic Aim Three:

Going global

Strategic Aim Four:

Supporting scientists

Global health

The MRC has invested in high-quality research to bring the benefits of biomedical research to populations across the world for more than 80 years. We have worked in partnership with local or regional research networks, governments and other research funders to build up a substantial global health portfolio of approximately £50m per year.

This portfolio includes a contribution of £9m per year from the UK Department for International Development, a longstanding partnership which ensures that the UK’s investment achieves maximum global health impact.

Funding research to improve health globally delivers on the UK’s commitments to international development while also exploring research questions of relevance to everyone.

The changing burdens of disease across the world, for example, the increasing emergence of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes in developing countries, bring new opportunities for the MRC’s global health research to benefit health both in the UK and internationally.

Objective

To support global health research that addresses the inequalities in health which arise particularly in developing countries.

Now

  • The MRC has long-standing units in The Gambia and Uganda. These are major centres of excellence which work with local and regional networks to conduct world-class research spanning fundamental laboratory-based work to social science studies and large-scale clinical trials.
  • Recognising the increasing burden that chronic non-communicable diseases place on global public health, the MRC is a founding partner of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases; a group of international health funders which has, as its first joint activity, established a global programme of hypertension research.
  • In partnership with DFID and the Wellcome Trust we are investing in global health intervention trials aimed at improving the health of the most vulnerable in society.

Making an impact: MRC supported research has led to major advances in international public health research

Results from the ARROW clinical trial in Zimbabwe and Uganda, jointly supported with the Department for International Development, have shown that children on HIV treatment can be safely monitored without the need for expensive routine laboratory tests. These findings mean that treatment can be given much more cheaply, which may help more children to get access to life-saving care.

The ground-breaking FEAST trial showed the detrimental effect of reviving children in shock with the most severe infections with fluid and demonstrates the importance of testing interventions for effectiveness in different settings. It serves as a model for future trials in resource poor settings and it is hoped that the trial will avert thousands of deaths a year from the inappropriate use of fluid.

Future

We will build on our existing strengths to carry out world-class research and deliver its benefits to global communities. Our vision includes but also extends beyond our successful long-term investments in Africa.

  • We aim to continue our leading role in tackling infectious diseases, which impact heavily on the health and wellbeing of populations in resource-poor settings.
  • We aim to strengthen investment in non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and respiratory conditions, and explore opportunities to fund mental health research in resource-poor settings.
  • We seek to develop our investment in the translation of research findings into health systems to ensure that the outcomes of our research can be better implemented into practice, providing evidence for policy-makers and other users.
  • We aim to explore opportunities to fund interventions and implementation research in child and maternal health, including the time surrounding the birth, the early stages of a child's life and nutrition research.

How

We will leverage funding and work in partnership to accelerate progress with major infectious and non-communicable diseases.

  • We will continue our commitment to supporting and developing existing centres of excellence and regional networks in Africa, building on key UK strengths in methodology research and technology.
  • Through our renewed concordat partnership with the UK Department for International Development, we will together invest over £90m over five years in excellent research with potential to address international development goals.
  • We will support research across the pipeline from fundamental research in the laboratory through to research into how health systems can use interventions in order to improve vaccinology and disease elimination.
  • We will continue to strengthen our portfolio of research into HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases.
  • We will expand our commitment to global health research which delivers implementable results by developing partnerships to fund global health clinical trials, including the European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership and the DFID/MRC/Wellcome Trust global health trials funding scheme.
  • We will capitalise on the opportunities made available by the establishment of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases and explore which interventions for chronic diseases are likely to be most effective in resource-poor settings and how these might be put into practice.
  • We will support a multi-funder programme to research how health systems in low and middle-income countries can deliver improved health outcomes, promoting the translation of research findings to vulnerable populations.