The UK Medical Research Council (MRC) completed its first decade of translational research funding, which has led to £ 1.1 billion in private sector investment and new therapies for patients, according to their new report titled “MRC Translational Research 2008-2018.”

What is the MRC?

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is responsible for coordinating and funding medical research in the United Kingdom (UK). They are part of the United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI), which commenced 1 April 2018 and combines the UK’s seven research councils, Innovate UK, and Research England. UK Research and Innovation is accountable to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, although it is politically independent.

The MRC focuses on high-impact research and has offered financial support and scientific expertise behind a number of medical breakthroughs, including the development of penicillin and the discovery of the structure of DNA. MRC funded research has helped produce 32 Nobel Prize winners thus far.

Recent Report Summary

Emma Morriss of the UK’s excellent website Pharmafield recently summarized the decade of deliveries for the MRC.

The special-purpose agency has invested over £530 million of translational research funding since 2008 leading to MRC-linked spin-outs totaling £1.1 billion in private sector biopharma industry investment producing myriad of health benefits from gene therapies to medical devices.

Why was MRC created? There was a dearth of research “progressing from the bench to bedside” or what is known as the “so-called ‘valley of death’” where public investments can help augment and support the gap in private sector financing.

The MRC report summarized outcomes of translational research completed from 2008 to 2018, including an interview of 250 principal investigators. They concluded that about 33% of all initiatives via translational funding plans attracted follow-on investment, furthering the research imperative improving the chances of moving the project into clinical development, spin-off companies and other commercialization opportunities—e.g. it has improved the bed to bedside situation in the UK. For example, MRC funding led to 134 spinoffs which totaled 3 to 6% of the life science ventures formed in the UK from 2008 to 2018. 78 of the 134 spinoffs originated from translational research funding, including 31 spinoffs that attracted £1.1 billion in investment capital with a total valuation of £2.7 billion as of August 2019, according to the report.

MRC Representative Comment

Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, MRC’s Health Innovation Champion and Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow, noted, “The MRC has played a leading role in developing a continuum of funding to support UK life scientists take research from the laboratory and through the ‘valley of death,’ so investors and funders can turn their brilliant ideas into health and economic benefits. The MRC’s translational funding has the biggest impact in areas where we have created new markets in difficult or emerging areas of research, such as advanced therapies, like gene and cell therapies.”

Call to Action: The MRC is organized around institutes, units, and centers. For UK scientists and entrepreneurs interested in getting involved, consider your expertise and focus with their initiatives for a match. Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak is the MRC’s Health Innovation Champion.

Source: Medical Research Council

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