A vote of confidence — Biomedical Catalyst funding will accelerate research from bench to bedside

07 Aug 2012 14:21:11.293

A prestigious £400,000 award from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Technology Strategy Board (TSB) will allow top researchers at The University of Nottingham to take their pioneering work from bench to bedside.

The MRC and TSB Biomedical Catalyst Confidence in Concept awards give universities grants to help them develop promising research ideas to the clinical testing stage. This will allow innovative early-stage biomedical and biological research discoveries to be developed to a point where research funders and industry can invest in new drugs and technologies.

The funding will address what Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts calls the “valley of death” between when a bright new idea is developed in the lab and the point where a new diagnostic, drug or technology can be invested in by the market for improving healthcare.

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The University of Nottingham is a clear fit with this type of funding. It is already home to Biomedical Imaging, Drug Discovery and Clinical Translation Research Priority Groups which support projects in these key areas.

Herb Sewell, Professor of Immunology at the University and co-applicant of the Confidence in Concept award, said: “A significant amount of high-quality fundamental and discovery science takes place at The University of Nottingham, but translational opportunities are often under exploited.

“This award will be used to accelerate the transition from discovery science to translational research in the fields of diagnostics, disease management, healthcare and disease prevention strategies.”

A University of Nottingham Award Committee will be established, which will develop the translation of discovery towards clinical and commercial application — utilising existing links with industry to provide support and expertise.

Dr Wendy Ewart, Deputy Chief Executive of the MRC, said: “The MRC’s Confidence in Concept awards will empower leading UK universities to respond quickly to emerging translational opportunities as they arise. They will give academic researchers the opportunity to generate enough evidence to leverage further investment from a variety of sources to progress the best ideas, helping to bridge the gap between discovery and development.”

David Bott, Director of Innovation Programmes at the Technology Strategy Board, said: “We are delighted to make these first funding awards through the Biomedical Catalyst, which will help bridge the funding gap between the development of a new idea and investment by the market in a new drug or technology, and provide effective support for the best life science opportunities arising in the UK.”

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Notes to editors: The Biomedical Catalyst, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in December 2011, is a programme of public funding designed to deliver growth to the UK life sciences sector. Delivered jointly by the MRC and the Technology Strategy Board, the Catalyst is a key feature of the UK Government’s Life Sciences Strategy.

The first applications for larger translational projects through the Biomedical Catalyst, including those seeking to demonstrate clinical utility, are currently under consideration. Funding for successful applications will be announced before the end of October this year.

The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is also the most popular university in the UK by 2012 application numbers, and ‘the world’s greenest university’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

Huw Jones Jenkins, Business Development Executive, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, on +44 (0) 115 823 0043 or huw.jonesjenkins@nottingham.ac.uk 

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