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Investing for Impact

Outputs, outcomes and impact of MRC research

The MRC funds medical research and training from fundamental lab-based science to clinical trials, and in all disease areas. We work internationally in partnership with public and charity funders, with industry, regulators, policy makers and the public to deliver its mission. In deciding which research to support, the MRC places priority on discovery science that is likely to make a difference to clinical practice and improve human health.

The Investing for Impact report highlights the benefits derived from MRC-funded research and reflects the focus of the MRC Delivery Plan (PDF, 523KB) and the MRC's strategic objectives as outlined in the strategic delivery plan. We have selected case studies of reported research impact realised during 2015/2016 and that highlight MRC-led strategic initiatives. For quantitative analysis, we have analysed the MRC’s investments and reported outputs over the last five years placed in the context of 10 years of MRC funding.

Featured discovery science case study
Nanopore sequencing is a triumphant example of how discovery science funded by the MRC was translated into a novel technology poised to deliver widespread societal impact. Read the full story

Decades of discovery science set to revolutionise healthcare

The development of successful innovations that transform healthcare often rely on the knowledge derived from decades of discovery science and the substantial investment and research expertise of industry to bring products to market. Curiosity-driven discovery science provides the fertile ground upon which novel technologies for improving human health are developed; historical examples include the development of MRI for imaging, or radiotherapy for treating cancer. Similarly, the foundations of nanopore sequencing – a novel technology with applications in healthcare -- were established via decades of interdisciplinary discovery science and now have been successfully translated into practice through industry R&D. The commercial sequencing device that has been launched literally brings the power of modern genomics to the palm of your hand.

What is nanopore sequencing?

Nanopore sequencing is a ‘next generation’ DNA sequencing technique that uses a doughnut shaped protein whose hole is just a millionth of a meter wide – a nanopore.

These tiny pore proteins are embedded in cell membranes, perforating it; nanopore sequencing detects the molecules that go through its inside channel. When the pore is open, ions can flow freely through it, creating a tiny but measurable current. But if something blocks the pore – for example a strand of DNA - that current collapses. The four bases of DNA - A, C, G, and T- each change the current through the pore in unique ways. So, as a DNA strand threads its way through the pore, the rising and falling current reveals its sequence.