Greater Manchester has been awarded its largest ever research funding to help tackle health inequalities and drive health improvements across the city-region.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) has received a £59.1 million award which is the largest single research award given by the NIHR to the city region.

This funding will be used to translate its scientific discoveries into new treatments, diagnostic tests, and medical technologies to improve patients’ lives in Greater Manchester, and beyond, over the next five years.

Part of nearly £800 million awarded to 20 new Biomedical Research Centres across England by the NIHR, Greater Manchester’s award is part of a significant boost to the city-region, increasing the coverage of early-stage research across the nation and ensuring everyone has access to cutting edge clinical trials.

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, while also providing opportunities for a diverse range of professionals to undertake research, expanding research expertise.

Formed in 2017 with a £28.5 million five-year award from the NIHR, Manchester BRC is the largest BRC outside the South East of England and brings together world-leading academic clinical researchers.

Manchester BRC is hosted by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) and The University of Manchester (UoM), in partnership with The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust.

With this new 2022-27 award, Manchester BRC will increase research capacity by expanding our partnership to include three new NHS trusts; Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The new funding also allows Manchester BRC to expand on its current research areas of cancer, dermatology, hearing health, musculoskeletal, and respiratory, into further areas of relevance to our diverse populations including heart disease, mental health, and rare conditions.

Professor Ben Bridgewater, Chief Executive of Health Innovation Manchester, said: “The announcement of this substantial funding for the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Facility (BRC) is of huge importance to addressing the many health challenges and inequalities affecting the city-region and beyond. The level of investment and the partners involved are also a demonstration of the expertise here in Greater Manchester. We look forward to the results of this work transforming care for patients in Greater Manchester and across the North West of England”.

Professor Ian Bruce, Director of NIHR Manchester BRC, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this award from the NIHR – which more than doubles our previous award. This is a testament to our achievements over the past five years and also to our vision for the future; expanding both our research themes and our geographical reach. This will ensure that communities across our region’s urban, rural and coastal settings will now be able to participate in cutting-edge research. This award also allows us to further build our workforce to develop and deliver research across our region and to involve many more of our citizens and local patients in our research planning. We know that our region has high levels of deprivation and was disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which further widened health inequity. It is therefore imperative that Manchester BRC continues to bridge the gaps between new discoveries and personalised care, to ensure that we are levelling up health and care for all.

“I would like to thank everyone involved with our bid over the last two years. It has taken a monumental effort of hard work and dedication from our BRC Faculty and Core Team, and our partners, who were all singularly driven in our vision to drive health improvements and lasting change for all.”

Sir Michael Deegan CBE, Group Chief Executive of MFT, said: “Clinical research and innovation are key to Greater Manchester’s reputation as a world-class healthcare setting. We are very proud to host one of the largest NIHR portfolios in the country as part of our ‘One Manchester’ vision, and the new expanded Manchester BRC will help us to deliver even more cutting-edge treatments to our patients in Greater Manchester, and beyond.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Greater Manchester is big enough to matter, but small enough to know each other and driven enough to make a difference. Manchester BRC encapsulates this perfectly. Bringing together our brilliant clinical and academic minds to collaborate on the healthcare challenges our region faces, driving those discoveries through into treatments, and sharing them with the rest of the world.

“This is a truly exciting time for everyone in Greater Manchester, and Manchester BRC is pivotal to creating a better future for all of us.”