Research

Strategic Aim One:

Picking research that delivers

Strategic Aim Two:

Research to people

Strategic Aim Three:

Going global

Strategic Aim Four:

Supporting scientists

Capacity & skills

The MRC is about the people we nurture and support to become tomorrow’s leaders in discovery science. We will continue to prioritise investment in skills to develop and foster innovative and creative researchers.

We will meet national strategic skills needs, and ensure an internationally competitive research base for the UK which can respond to future challenges in human health and ensure that the UK is the location of choice for investment and growth.

Objective

To train and develop the next generation of biomedical research leaders by supporting outstanding individuals at crucial points in their research careers, aligned to national strategic skills objectives.

Now

  • We play a key role in ensuring a highly skilled workforce for UK medical research by supporting more than 5,700 research staff, 400 training fellows and 1,900 PhD students across the full spectrum of health disciplines, many working with industry. MRC Units, Centres and Institutes make significant contributions to training and the development of future research leaders.
  • The MRC engages with partners such as NIHR, charities and industry to understand needs for skills at a national level and meet these by supporting, for example, strategic skills fellowships in areas such as population health research, methodological research and advanced skills for working with animals.
  • We fund innovative approaches to training. For example, the MRC and Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma is a unique environment in which to train fundamental and clinical researchers, involving two universities and charity and industry partners.
  • The MRC stimulates collaborative research across academia and industry through a range of schemes including MRC Industrial CASE studentships and partnership awards for research fellows.

Future

  • The MRC will enrich support for future research leaders through flexible support at critical stages in research careers, and ensure that pathways to career development are clear and have appropriate support networks.
  • We will enhance support for strategic skills, wherever possible in partnership so that we can ensure alignment and connections with other funders, industry, the NHS and other stakeholders.
  • The MRC will dramatically improve engagement between academic and industry researchers to make the UK an attractive location for industry to operate.
  • We will work with partners to deliver a vision and framework for non-traditional research careers.

Making an impact: The MRC supports the excellence of clinical research in the UK.

A 20-year follow up of MRC clinical training fellows revealed that nearly all (96 per cent) are still actively engaged in research, close to 40 per cent at professorial level and 40 per cent as NHS consultants. 20 per cent were awarded Fellowships of the Academy of Medical Sciences, which are widely accepted as markers of international research excellence.

Within the NHS, MRC clinical training fellows are providing a manpower ‘research engine’ for the UK to undertake clinical research and engage with pharmaceutical industry at a time when medicine is a key contributor to economic growth.

How

The MRC will continue to support outstanding individuals and invest in areas that have the most potential to deliver excellence and innovation for human health. We will ensure that the MRC's investment in training is focused on developing a highly skilled cadre of researchers able to respond to new research challenges and who are comfortable working alongside researchers from other disciplines.

We will achieve this through:

  • Establishing with partners such as the Academy of Medical Sciences a revised career framework for non-clinical scientists, including those pursuing non-traditional routes.
  • Ensuring that strategic skills for medical research are reviewed in partnership with industry, including consideration of evolving areas of strategic importance where interdisciplinary approaches are paramount, for example experimental medicine and medical bioinformatics.
  • Establishing a working party with industry to achieve a step change in engagement between academic and industry researchers.
  • Expanding our investment in medical bioinformatics with a focus on supporting career opportunities in medical research for computational scientists, technologists, and programme leaders.
  • Promoting the diversity of our research base and ensuring enhanced career support and mentorship for researchers at all stages of their career.
  • Streamlining support mechanisms to ensure maximum flexibility and minimum administrative burden.