NIHR Sheffield BRC awarded nearly £12 million to accelerate scientific discoveries into new medical treatments
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) has received a £12 million funding boost which will help the centre improve early diagnosis, develop new treatments and improve outcomes for patients with a range of medical conditions, in a region with significant inequalities for health and life-expectancy.
A partnership between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the NIHR Sheffield BRC is dedicated to improving the health and care of people, and ensuring patients across the country have the opportunity to take part in, and benefit from, cutting-edge research studies.
In addition to the world-renowned neurological research already conducted at the centre, the new funding will allow researchers to expand their investigations into other diseases such as cardiovascular disease and inflammatory and infectious diseases.
Over the next five years researchers will be working to improve early diagnosis for pulmonary vascular disease, care pathways for patients living with HIV, outcomes for cardiovascular disease patients, and develop new vaccines for infectious diseases.
The centre will also apply the world-leading expertise of imaging researchers, engineers and data scientists at the University of Sheffield to harness the value of NHS data to understand disease prevalence in the region and improve disease prevention and health outcomes.
The NIHR Sheffield BRC was launched in 2017. Previous NIHR funding has been used to conduct 304 clinical studies, through which 2,974 patients had access to innovative experimental medicine treatments and therapies, 10 of which have patents underpinning further development towards the clinic.
The new funding will also provide opportunities for a diverse range of professionals to undertake research, expanding research expertise in allied health professionals - such as physiotherapists, radiologists and dietitians - as well as in doctors and nurses.
Professor Dame Pamela Shaw is the Director of the NIHR Sheffield BRC, alongside her role as Director of the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN). She said: “The Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre has a track record of giving access to experimental medical trials for patients living with a variety of diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases such as MND, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. This work has improved the outlook in multiple ways for patients facing devastating neurological conditions.
“The work of the new health-care themes includes breakthroughs in anti-platelet therapies for cardiovascular disease, innovative rehabilitation approaches for stroke victims, and life-changing biological treatments for severe inflammatory skin disease which have all significantly improved the lives of patients.
“This new round of funding will allow the centre to continue this important work and develop a portfolio of promising new therapeutic approaches, as well as creating opportunities for the next generation of clinical and scientific researchers working to improve the lives of those living in South Yorkshire, a region that still suffers from lower life expectancy and wider health inequalities.”
Kirsten Major, Chief Executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are absolutely delighted that our bid for an additional £12 million funding has been successful. This means we can expand the ground breaking research we do in partnership with the University of Sheffield which impacts on the future care and treatment of so many patients not just locally but worldwide. The enlarged Biomedical Research Centre will allow even more of our patients to participate in research which we know in itself also improves patients’ health and outcomes.”
The award followed a competitive process judged by international experts and patients at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).
Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR, said: “Research by NIHR Biomedical Research Centres has led to a number of ground-breaking new treatments, such as new gene therapies for haemophilia and motor neurone disease, the world-first treatment for Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, a nose-drop vaccine for whooping cough, and the first UK-wide study into the long-term impact of COVID-19.
“This latest round of funding recognises the strength of expertise underpinning health and care research across the country and gives our nation’s best researchers more opportunities to develop innovative new treatments for patients.”
Health and Social Care Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Thérèse Coffey, said: “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of our booming research sector and the potential it has to not only strengthen health and care services, but lead to lifesaving developments.
“This additional funding will harness the UK's world leading innovation and allow research centres up and down the country to attract experts in their field and conduct research that saves lives.
“From helping develop the Covid vaccine to discovering world-first treatments, these centres have already delivered ground-breaking research and will continue to help us tackle some of the biggest health challenges we face, including cancer, to ensure the NHS continues to deliver world-class care.”
Professor Dame Pamela Shaw
Professor Dame Pamela Shaw will remain as the director of the NIHR Sheffield BRC for the new award. Professor Shaw will lead a wider team of investigators in the expanded centre. Updates to the website will be made in the coming weeks to reflect these changes.