Major Award to Boost Funding for Experimental Medicine in Birmingham

Posted on Thursday 6th July 2006

Major Award to Boost Funding for Experimental Medicine in Birmingham

The University of Birmingham has secured a major funding award to develop one of 11 UK Centres for Translational and Experimental Medicine.

The money will fund work to translate discoveries in the laboratory into treatments for some of the most important current public health problems including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer.

In partnership with the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust the University will expand and redevelop the existing Wellcome Trust Clinical Research facility, which will provide a base for new research in areas including gene therapy and sports medicine. In partnership with the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the plans also include a new satellite facility at the Children’s Hospital to help researchers study the progression of childhood diseases into adults.

The funding for Birmingham is part of a package of more than 84 million pounds donated by a consortia of funders led by the Wellcome Trust. This investment brings together laboratory and clinical patient-based research in order to answer important questions about health and disease.

The funding in Birmingham will go towards four key areas of medical research to tackle human disease in adults and children:

• The development of specialist labs to work on gene therapy treatments and trials for cancers and other immune mediated diseases.

• Expanded facilities to develop the University’s existing work in investigating new treatments for people with heart failure and hypertension

• Exercise facilities to investigate the beneficial effects of exercise in patients with cardiovascular diseases, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The unit will also continue work on the mechanisms that cause insulin resistance in diabetes and obesity.

• Genetic studies of young people with a wide range of inherited metabolic diseases with the aim of developing new trials and therapies for these patients.

Professor Paul Stewart who led the University’s bid said: "This funding will develop Birmingham’s reputation as one of the most important centres Nationally and Internationally for research into the key public health problems of the 21st century. Despite recent improvements in treatment, both cancer and heart disease kill around 150,000 people every year, so developing new therapies is a priority. We are delighted that this funding will go directly to turning existing research into developing new treatments for patients. This covers a huge range of work from large scale clinical trials to investigating simple therapies like exercise, which we still don’t fully understand.

A main aim of this proposal is also to target the city’s huge ethnic populations, who have an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and some cancer"."

Dr Tim Barrett a specialist in childhood diabetes at the University’s Medical School said: "The UK is currently experiencing an epidemic in obesity and Type 2 diabetes and increasingly these problems are becoming evident in childhood. The partnership between the University and the Birmingham Children’s Hospital will help us to follow people throughout their lives to understand better how and why these conditions develop. We envisage that medical research becomes an ageless process, so we can follow people seamlessly throughout their lives."

ENDS

For more information contact Ben Hill, University of Birmingham Press Officer on 0121 414 5134 or 07789 921163.

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Funding Partners

The funding partners include the Wellcome Trust, British Heart Foundation (BHF), Cancer Research UK, the Wolfson Foundation, the Medical Research Council (MRC), and the Health Departments in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Health Research Board of Ireland.

Definitions

1. Experimental Medicine is defined as investigation undertaken in human beings to identify mechanisms of pathophysiology or disease, to test the validity and importance of new discoveries or treatments.

2. A Clinical Research Facility provides state-of-the-art facilities for investigators undertaking Clinical Research. A typical facility provides a mixture of day rooms and bedded areas together with access to specialised research equipment and the associated highly trained clinical, laboratory and technical support that is need to underpin complex research studies.