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Professors Tim Softley, Paulus Kirchhof stand to the left of the VC Professor Sir David Eastwood, with Professor Sir Nilesh Samani to the right.
L-R: Professor Tim Softley, Professor Paulus Kirchhof, Professor Sir David Eastwood, Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, and Professor David Adams

The University of Birmingham has received £1 million funding from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to strengthen its ground-breaking research into heart and circulatory diseases.

The University is one of only six institutions in the UK to be awarded with a BHF Accelerator Award, which encourages pioneering research of the highest calibre. A special event was held at the Edgbaston Park Hotel in Birmingham this week (Monday 28 October) to mark the accolade.

The Accelerator Award will bolster the university’s research in atrial fibrillation (AF), heart failure, thrombo-inflammation and vascular biology. It will create a joined-up research pipeline from discovery science to health services research, including the provision of integrated training for scientists and clinical academics.

Researchers will also have greater access to super-resolution imaging, complex disease models, clinical research infrastructure and large datasets – all of which will help advance their research from bench to bedside.

The award will further fund a number of new positions that will help to integrate research excellence, including new research nurse capacity in local hospitals, data scientists working within the Midlands Health Data Research UK (HDR-UK) and fundamental researchers embedded into the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences (ICVS) and the Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE).

The research will be coordinated in ICVS and translated uniquely by Birmingham Health Partners (BHP) – a strategic alliance between the University and two NHS Foundation Trusts: University Hospitals Birmingham and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s. Research enabled by the grant will also be supported by Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust (SWBH).

Award director Professor Paulus Kirchhof, who is Director of the ICVS, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine within the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and Consultant Cardiologist working across BHP and SWBH, explained: “This award recognises that we have a strong cohort of emerging leaders and upcoming researchers, whose work will be supported by this vital funding.

“This investment will greatly accelerate translation of new scientific discoveries to develop new treatments for patients in the city and beyond.”

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, added: “The BHF Accelerator Award is recognition of the quality of the cardiovascular research at the University of Birmingham.

“We currently fund around £13 million of research at the university, and the flexible funding provided by the Accelerator Award will enable researchers to develop novel ideas more rapidly, promote inter-disciplinary research and support the careers of early stage researchers.

“We are very pleased to have made this award, which is only possible through the generosity of the public who support us.”

In the West Midlands region alone, there are around 670,000 people living with the daily burden of heart and circulatory diseases – with these conditions claiming more than 15,300 lives per year.