Joint Research Office


NIHR awards our BRC over £90million

12 October 2022

The Biomedical Research Centre at UCLH and UCL has been awarded over £90million from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to support our world class research.

The funding, which will be spread over a five-year period from December 2022 to November 2027, will directly benefit patients through the development of ground-breaking new treatments and diagnostics.

The award represents a continuation of government funding to our biomedical research centre (BRC) and signals the world-class strength of our research at UCLH. The funding will enable the BRC to continue to drive research in key/priority areas including cancer, critical care, cardiovascular diseases, neuroscience, digital health, mental health and obesity.

For this BRC funding round, university and NHS partnerships were invited to apply for up to £100 million over the five-year period. The BRC at UCLH and UCL is one of only two BRCs to be awarded over £90 million.

The £90.2m in funding for UCLH is part of nearly £800m awarded to 20 BRCs across England following an open and competitive process judged by international experts and members of the public.

NIHR biomedical research centres are partnerships between healthcare professionals and academics in the country's leading NHS trusts and universities. The centres, part of NIHR's research infrastructure, receive substantial levels of sustained funding to attract the best scientists and create an environment where experimental medicine can thrive. A particular focus is on moving new treatments and diagnostics into patient care for the first time.

NIHR infrastructure supports the country's leading experts to develop and deliver research funded by the NIHR, other public funders, charities and the life sciences industry. In doing so, its investment plays a crucial role in underpinning research in England and supporting economic growth for the whole of the UK. Over the past nine years, the BRCs have supported almost 60,000 studies and published 55,000 research papers, as well as supported the career development of more than 14,000 junior doctors and research scientists.

In the same period BRCs have leveraged nearly £9 billion of funding from external organisations to undertake experimental medicine and early translational research. The centres have collaborated with almost 3,000 small and medium-sized companies, as well as 2,000 other partners in the life sciences industry. More than 11,800 patents have been generated by BRCs and 85 spin out companies, with intellectual property from the centres generating more than £800m in revenue.

In its letter to award funding to the BRC at UCLH and UCL, the NIHR commented favourably on the:

  • quality and breadth of research at UCLH and UCL
  • strength of the BRC's leadership and strategic plan
  • BRC's strong partnerships with NHS organisations, universities, charities, industry and national bodies
  • value for money offered by the funding bid
  • demonstration of patient and public involvement built into the bid.

The BRC – a close partnership between UCLH and UCL – was established in 2007 and has received continuous funding since. As one of the largest NHS Trusts in the UK and a leading BRC, UCLH and UCL have become leaders in translating fundamental biomedical research into clinical research that benefits patients. Key BRC achievements in the last five years include delivering:

  • the continued development of new immunotherapies including CAR T-cell cancer therapy
  • the largest ever lung cancer screening study
  • the first trial to show that the Huntington's disease protein can be suppressed
  • the first regenerative hearing loss study worldwide
  • over 100 Covid-19 studies including key vaccine trials

UCLH Chief Executive David Probert said: "This funding award is fantastic news and I want to congratulate everyone at UCLH and UCL involved in this achievement. Our strong partnership with UCL in research is key to the care we are able to offer at UCLH."

BRC Director and UCLH Director of Research and the lead for the bid, Professor Bryan Williams said: "This was a very competitive funding round and our success is testament to the strength of our partnership working and the world class strength of our research across a number of areas. We are very pleased to receive this funding and I want to acknowledge the outstanding colleagues who have made this possible. This funding which will enable us to continue to deliver ground-breaking research in a number of areas including cancer, neurological diseases, infection and cardiovascular diseases.

"Ultimately this is about improving the outcomes for patients – locally, nationally and internationally – who will benefit from this funding, thanks to innovations in care made possible by the BRC, changing and saving lives."

Professor David Lomas, Vice Provost (Health) at UCL, said: "It is great to receive news of this funding which will be key to work across UCL and UCLH over the next five years to conduct truly impactful research that improves health outcomes across the UK and beyond."

Dr Nick McNally, Managing Director, Research UCLH/UCL, said: "The BRC is able to do what it does thanks to close collaboration between UCLH and UCL and expert teams within each organisation, including our excellent research support teams. This funding award will support the continued success of our clinical translational portfolio."

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."