New Health Research Centres Of Excellence Announced

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt today announced the creation of eleven new Biomedical Research Centres of excellence across England to drive the development, testing and uptake of new and better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat ill-health. These Centres, within England’s leading NHS-University partnerships, will focus on “translational research” that will take advances in basic medical research out of the laboratory and into the hospital clinic.

This means that patients will benefit more quickly from new scientific breakthroughs.

The new Biomedical Research Centres of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) will also ensure that the UK retains its position at the top of the international league table for Biomedical Research. The process for selecting the Biomedical Research Centres was highly competitive

These centres – in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Liverpool and Newcastle – are among the most outstanding centres of medical research in the world. They will share over £450 million over the next five years to undertake research on major killers such as cancer and heart disease, as well as on other crucial areas such as asthma, HIV, mental illness, blindness, and the specific health needs of children and older people.

Patricia Hewitt, Health Secretary said: “Health research is vital for the health and wealth of the nation. We want to create a world-class health research system in which the NHS supports people conducting leading-edge research and gives patients better access to ground-breaking new medicines and treatments. The new Biomedical Research Centres will put the UK at the forefront of vital health research and contribute to the nation’s international competitiveness as a major component of our knowledge economy.”

Patricia Hewitt said: “A Panel of international experts has confirmed that these centres are internationally excellent in translational research. I know that those nationally excellent centres who have not been funded now will be disappointed. We will therefore work with them to build on their existing strengths to enable them to develop successful proposals to become Research Centres that are at the forefront of translational research internationally in the future.”

Supporting the development of those nationally-excellent centres who have not been funded now is in line with the recommendations of the Cooksey Report published on 6 December. This Report said “…there needs to be scope for other centres to develop, in order to provide a challenge to the established centres in the quinquennial funding competitions, and thus help to drive excellence in the system.

“There is a case for further funding to support more centres that may be capable of challenging for the award of Centre of Excellence status. …We recommend that the Comprehensive Spending Review considers the case for money to be allocated to new NIHR programmes in this area.”

The Government has welcomed the Cooksey Review and agreed to take forward its recommendations.

Since Research and Development was established in the Department of Health in 1991, research programmes and projects have contributed to expanding the evidence base for applied health research. Between 1997 and 2006, NHS R&D spent £4.8 billion on research to promote high quality evidence in support of health and health-care, policy makers, professionals and the public.

The Government is committed to investing in health research and has allocated £750 million in 2006/07 to NHS R&D.