Centres of Excellence


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Research Centres of Excellence in the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing

Inflammation research in Birmingham has now coalesced around the interdisciplinary Centres of excellence present in the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing and also the Centre for Liver Research.  We aim to identify shared biological mechanisms that define the functional features of chronic inflammatory disease by integrating disease specific expertise. Our work co-locates basic and clinical scientists working on inflammation in the joints, liver, lung, eye and kidney and in trauma, as well as part of normal human ageing. 

We also work closely with the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital at Birmingham and the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine.  They provide outstanding facilities and patient cohorts, including major trauma victims.  We study immune mediated inflammatory disease, resolution of inflammation, age-related inflammation (inflammageing) and trauma.  Our aim is to build capacity in this area and to foster collaboration between basic scientists and clinical academics.  Our focus on common processes underlying chronic inflammatory disease has led to new insights into mucosal inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, renal vasculitis, chronic inflammatory lung disease (COPD) and spondylarthropathies. 

We are continuously investing in major developments, expansion and improvements to our clinical research facilities. Our basic and translational research strengths have been recognised through the award of external funding to support a number of Centres of Excellence allowing us to stay at the forefront of medical research and deliver the very latest scientific research findings.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenesis Centre

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in your joints. The main symptoms are joint pain and swelling. It’s the second most common form of arthritis in the UK and there are over 400,000 new cases in Europe and the US each year.

Arthritis Research UK is sponsoring this project, a partnership between the University of Birmingham, the University of Glasgow and the University of Newcastle to speed up the progress towards finding a cure for this debilitating disease.

Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research

This collaborative research venture between Birmingham and Nottingham Universities aims to understand how ageing results in loss of musculoskeletal function and to use this knowledge to intervene and minimise age-related musculoskeletal decline and disease. The major focus of our interventions is on exercise and diet, incorporating motivational psychology research to underpin improved uptake and adherence to lifestyle changes. The Centre will also use the facilities on both sites to train the next generation of researchers, building capacity in this vital area and ensuring older adults are able to enjoy rather than endure old age. 

The MRC Arthritis Research UK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research (CMAR), directed by Prof Janet Lord, integrates the work of world class researchers, clinicians and health professionals at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham to focus on understanding the age-related loss of musculoskeletal function and the role played by obesity and abnormal metabolism in this process. A cross-cutting theme integrating the basic research is consideration of inflammatory and hormonal environments, which are key mediators of the effects of ageing and obesity and crucially represent tractable targets for modification via pharmacological or lifestyle interventions.  CMAR was awarded through national competition in 2012 and was renewed for a further 5 years in 2017.

Surgical Reconstruction and
Microbiology Research Centre (NIHR SRMRC)

The National Institute for Health Research Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre (NIHR SRMRC) is a national centre for trauma research, taking discoveries from the military frontline to improve outcomes for all patients in the UK.

It brings together pioneering advances in surgery and infection by both military and civilian scientists as well as clinicians to deliver excellence in innovation in a complex area of acute care.

Launched in 2011, the centre shares its knowledge gained from treating seriously injured military and civilian patients, with the wider NHS. Based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB), the centre harnesses expertise from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), University of Birmingham (UoB), and QEHB and has been funded over five years with a total of £15 million investment (£5 million QEHB and UoB; £5 million MoD; £5 million NIHR).

Centre for Burns Research 

The Scar Free Foundation Birmingham Burns Research Centre, led by Prof Naiem Moiemen, was founded in June 2012 and has established a fully integrated multidisciplinary research platform for burns research. The strategy of The Scar Free Foundation Birmingham Burns Research centre is to become a world renowned centre for research in to acute burn injury in order to deliver Scar Free healing in the future for burns patients. The Centre also aims to develop the next generation of academics interested in Burns and scarring. The primary focus now is to continue its work studying scar biomarkers, the quantitative measurement of scarring and heveloping novel treatments, including biologic infused dressing, to reduce or avoid scaring in the future.

The Centre draws upon the outstanding clinical and academic resources of its partner institutions: University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHBFT), Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH), University of Birmingham (UoB), Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM), University College London (UCL) and the Royal Free Hospital, London. It is also developing a “Scar Alliance” of researchers across the UK to integrate scarring and burns research, including researchers in Bristol, Manchester, and Dublin.

Read more about the Centre for Burns Research

Conflict Wound Research Centre

The Scar Free Foundation Centre for Conflict Wound Research is based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB), and will lead a national programme of clinical, psychological and scientific research. This is the UK’s first specialist medical research centre aiming to minimise the impact of scarring and improve the lives of Armed Forces personnel and civilians wounded in conflicts and terrorist attacks. The interim director is Prof Moiemen until a full time director is recruited.The Centre will investigate how the body heals and protects itself following the types of trauma that are likely in future conflicts and terrorist attacks, including chemical, burn, and blast injury.

By understanding the biological processes of scarring this research will, over time, deliver new treatments. It will initially run three flagship research projects: the first will develop and undertake the “first-in-human” clinical trial of a new conflict-ready and transportable dressing which helps the skin heal with reduced scarring, led by Prof Ann Logan (IIA) and Prof Liam Grover (Chem Eng). The second project will determine the biological basis for laser therapy treatment of established scars, aiming to improve current methods which largely lack an evidence base. This is led by Profs Moiemen and Lord. The third project, led by the Centre for Appearance Research, based at the University of the West of England, will pilot tailored psychosocial treatments to help seriously injured Armed Forces personnel, recruited from the CASEVAC Club; cope with life with an altered, scarred appearance. 

Biomedical Research Centre

The NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) in Inflammation opened on 1 April 2017 with the aim of using cutting edge experimental medicine to accelerate access to, and adoption of, drugs, devices and diagnostic tests for patients living with chronic inflammatory diseases.  

The Centre brings together the expertise of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) and the University of Birmingham, both members of Birmingham Health Partners (BHP).    The focus of the Birmingham BRC is to take scientific discoveries in inflammation biology through into new treatments for patients with inflammatory and autoimmune joint, muscle, gut and liver diseases. The BRC is led by Professor David Adams, whose research is based in the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy (III), with two of the other themes led by researchers in IIA: 

Read more about the Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre

Early Arthritis Treatment Centre

This £0.5m award from (funded in 2012 and to renewed in 2018) from Arthritis Research UK, led by Prof Karim Raza, is to fund research that will  lead to brand new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Local patients take part in experimental trials within the Inflammation Research Facility (an annex of the Birmingham Clinical Research Facility refunded in 2017 with £12.8M (Director Buckley).   The team, which includes Professor Buckley, Drs Andrew Filer, Ben Fisher will trial new drugs and those currently used to treat other conditions, such as cancer, in patients with established - as well as those with early - disease. In related work, a team led by Andy Clark and funded by  Arthritis Research UK, will use their £1.2M five year programme grant (funded in 2018) to investigate the basic science behind macrophage/fibroblast interactions  hold the key to developing the condition.

The Birmingham team have been at the forefront of research investigating the effects of fibroblasts - macrophage interactions responsible for defining the structure of the lining layer of cells in the joint. They have demonstrated that these cells are programmed from an early stage in the development of rheumatoid arthritis to damage the joint and lead to persistent inflammation. 

Read more about Arthritis Research UK