What is discovery without boundaries?
The MRC has a long-standing history of supporting excellent discovery science. MRC-funded institutes have been essential for expanding our understanding of fundamental biological processes underlying human health and disease. These institutes are responsible for adopting broad, multidisciplinary approaches to address major challenges in biomedical research, often requiring ground-breaking methodology and complex technology development. To enable this, the institutes are provided with sustained support and state-of-the-art facilities. They are therefore able to use highly innovative and often risky approaches across a flexible range of expertise that would not be feasible in a university setting, to tackle important and complex issues over long periods of time.
Discovery science is by definition both broad and deep; covering all areas of disease at all levels, from the molecule to the cell, from the organ to the whole organism. It requires scientists to collaborate at the interface between disciplines such as structural biology and cell biology; gene function and health; computational approaches to improve biological understanding; and immunity and infections.
As of 2016, the MRC has three institutes comprising very long-term flexible multidisciplinary investments. These are:
- The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge is one of the birthplaces of modern molecular biology. The institute aims to understand biological processes at a molecular level with the ultimate goal of using this knowledge to tackle specific problems in human health and disease.
- The Francis Crick Institute in London is a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the scientific mechanisms of living things. Its work helps to understand why disease develops and to find new ways to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections and neurodegenerative diseases. The Francis Crick Institute was formed in 2015 through the decommissioning and merger of the MRC's National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute. Funding for construction and running the new Institute is a partnership between the MRC, Cancer Research UK, Wellcome Trust, University College London, Imperial College London and King's College London.
- MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences was formerly known as the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre. It is at the forefront of innovative biomedical research and, in partnership with Imperial College London and others, promotes the translation of its research for maximal benefit.