MRC-ARUK facilities

The Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research has access to outstanding basic and clinical research facilities across the partner sites of the University of Birmingham and University of Nottingham, embedded in a portfolio of existing successful collaborative research initiatives.

The hub of the Centre is housed within new dedicated laboratory space in the new Queen Elizabeth “super” hospital. Facilities for lifestyle and pharmacological intervention studies are available at both sites, ensuring an excellent translational research environment.

University of Birmingham...

The core of the Centre at the University of Birmingham is co-located with a dedicated clinical research facility (CRF) linked to our pioneering Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility. The School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences (SSERS) and the Institute for Biomedical Research (IBR) comprise the other main sites of research and training activity at UoB that make up the Centre.

The SSERS building has 2200m2 of laboratory space housing state-of-the-art laboratories for human physiology research including: Endurance and resistance exercise; Calorimetry and metabolic kitchen; Stable isotope Mass Spectrometry, Body composition (DEXA), Cardiovascular and respiratory function, Posture and gait analysis and electrophysiology.

The IBR provides state-of-the-art technologies, such as Next Generation sequencing, MoFlo cell sorting, in vivo imaging and the National NMR Centre through its Technology Hub, which coordinates major technology platforms across the College of Medical & Dental Sciences (MDS).

UoB has also established the Human Biomaterials Resource Centre, a licensed Human Tissue Authority (HTA) biorepository, providing access to an unrivalled human tissue collection, storage and processing resource. Access to healthy older adults is also a significant issue for ageing research. This is overcome at UoB through a large cadre of volunteers, the Birmingham 1000 Elders group.

UoB has extensive infrastructure to enable the full circle of translational research, through development of productive partnerships with key stakeholders (MRC Translational Road Map, Regional Development Agency, OHSCR-GSK Therapeutic Capability Clusters and NIHR).

The millennial Wellcome CRF embedded at UHBFT has recently been expanded to incorporate a cell-based/gene/immunotherapy facility and a satellite at SSES, as well as a unique mobile CRF, the community “Health Research Bus” ensuring representative adult engagement.

Importantly unique research opportunities are provided by the local populations – in Birmingham and Nottingham combined there are 7 million people of diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, all now accessible through large, well-managed NHS Trusts and our CRF structures.

Additional and complementary facilities for validating exercise interventions in an NHS setting are provided by the Action Heart Activity Centre, which provides a comprehensive service, including exercise and lifestyle counselling for its patients. The centre now receives over 1000 referrals per annum, both patients and healthy individuals, and has developed an experienced multi-disciplinary team of health professionals to carry out its work.

Further support for interventions in a secondary care setting is available through our partnership with the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. Testing and implementation of interventions in a community setting, including the workplace and care homes, will be achieved through GP referral systems and via our collaboration with BUPA.

University of Nottingham...

Research and training resources at Birmingham University are complemented and strengthened by partnership with Nottingham University enabled by the establishment of a Birmingham-Nottingham concordat in February 2011. Metabolic physiology and clinical academic units experienced in ageing and rehabilitation research collaborate, and include the University of Nottingham Rehabilitation and Ageing Group that has an excellent record of translating potential interventions from the laboratory to real life.

The University of Nottingham also has a substantial infrastructure to support clinical translational research, a priority of a multidisciplinary Priority Group led by the Dean of Medicine.

UoN has world leading facilities for invasive human physiology based investigations located in state-of-the-art human physiology laboratories within the Medical School on the Queen’s Medical Centre campus and satellite School of Graduate Entry Medicine & Health on the Derby campus. These sites include a clinical trials ward, exercise and resting metabolism laboratories, gymnasium for resistance training and volunteer screening rooms. Dedicated facilities exist for body composition (DEXA), muscle function, exercise intolerance and cardio-respiratory capacity. World-leading whole-body MRI facilities or human imaging and spectroscopy are available in the Sir Peter Mansfield MR Centre.

From an analytical perspective, mass spectrometers, amino acid and clinical analysers are maintained, with in-house expertise, to measure human muscle, tendon and bone turnover using stable isotope tracer approaches, which is dovetailed with comprehensive expertise and facilities for cellular and molecular biology focussed on the musculoskeletal system.

The spectrometry facility will be updated and expanded using MRC-ARUK Centre funds. Together with the Mass Spectrometers at SSES at Birmingham University the Centre will provide a national technology platform for this methodology and this is predicted to be available to UK researchers from January 2013. This is vitally important given, for example, reports of a dissociation between muscle protein turnover and the molecular signalling events regulating muscle mass in humans, i.e. measuring molecular events alone is inadequate.

The Schools of Biosciences and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Nottingham add large animal facilities and most notably models of musculoskeletal development and decline in animals with similar joint anatomy and physiology to those of humans. Longitudinal studies of musculoskeletal ageing are facilitated via a collaboration with the group of Prof Gustaffson at the Karolinksa Institute which has a 20 year study of human ageing