Life Sciences at Birmingham: Delivering the Full Circle of Translational Medicine

The Life Sciences sector is a powerhouse of the UK economy, with an annual turnover of over £50bn. Some 4,500 pharmaceutical, medical biotechnology and medical technology companies employ 165,000 staff.

Properly nurtured and developed, the sector will continue to drive economic growth, attract investment in research, and make crucial strides towards addressing some of the biggest challenges facing society today.

This week we welcomed the Minister for Life Sciences, George Freeman, to campus to discuss our own vision for Life Sciences in Birmingham and tour our translational facilities.

The University, working closely with our NHS partners, will be instrumental in delivering the region’s aim to position Birmingham as one of the leading national contributors to the sector. We are ideally set up to deliver this, being at the heart of a campus that includes not only internationally leading scientists within the University but also outstanding clinicians and access to patients within our superb hospitals.

We have £400m of current funding in Life Sciences supporting research into big issues such as cancer, ageing, brain function, chronic and rare diseases, trauma and antibiotic resistance, as well as helping us understand the role of the environment, emerging agricultural technologies, exercise, and nutrition in maintaining health.

New facilities, such as the Institute of Translational Medicine, the Life Sciences Campus development at Battery Park, and the Birmingham Phenome Centre will further strengthen the platform we are building for world-leading research and academic-business collaboration in the region.

In order to realise our potential in this area we must invest in people as well as technology. There are already 22,000 people employed in Life Sciences within the region and together with the next generation of students and biomedical scientists we will deliver a workforce that will benefit people across the globe.

Our challenge is to deliver high quality research focused, innovative education programmes that transform students into professionals equipped with the knowledge and skills to become the biomedical and healthcare workforce of the future.

Top class teaching needs to be backed by an outstanding student experience that adapts to the demands of each individual – from our undergraduates and postgraduates, through to those coming to us to continue their professional development.

If we can be agile enough to respond swiftly to the changing landscapes within both higher education and Life Sciences, we will build on our strong reputation for nurturing talent. Our Biosciences course is already ranked 3rd in the UK for graduate prospects, and our Nursing course is ranked 3rd overall, both by the Complete University Guide 2016.  Our highly respected medical and dental programmes, produce over 350 qualified doctors and 70 qualified dentists every year.

Our high NSS scores for 2015 once again show our excellence in teaching with Medicine scoring 94% and 92 % for teaching and overall satisfaction respectively, and Dentistry 97% and 98%.

And to further strengthen our clinical teaching, we also offer a highly successful integrated clinical academic training (ICAT) pathway which is an National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) funded scheme to support medical, dental and allied health professionals in their career development as clinical academics

The diversity of our student base, the future Life Sciences workforce, is a matter of great pride to us. We take very seriously our responsibility to provide people from all backgrounds with the chance to achieve their potential through the opportunity to study, research and work in their chosen fields. This applies equally to an international student who has chosen our course over myriad others, or those who have joined us through our sector leading widening participation programmes.

To deliver our regional and national aspirations we will work closely with our outstanding local hospitals through Birmingham Health Partners to deliver scientific advances to the patients and populations who will benefit from them.

Professor David Adams and Professor Myra Nimmo

Over the next 12 months there will be a series of events taking place to share developments and progress towards achieving our vision for Life Sciences at Birmingham.