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Innovative translational research

University of Birmingham - a centre of excellence for innovative translational research

Through substantial internal and external investment a highly specialised environment has been developed at the University of Birmingham, College of Medical and Dental Sciences (MDS) where basic scientists and clinicians successfully work together on key national biomedical research priorities. MDS translational research is focused on five themes: Cancer, Cardiovascular Sciences, Hormones & Genes, Immunity & Infection and Neurosciences. Cutting-edge infrastructure and high-spec technical facilities support research across the college, driving translation of basic biomedical research into real clinical benefit. Strong NHS partnerships and the location of the university in the centre of the West Midlands region allows exceptional access to patients, with a huge (>5.5m) ethnically and socio-economically diverse population.


Understanding the complex biological processes causing human disease is fundamental to generating future medical technologies and relies heavily on the development and effective use of high-technology equipment and analytical methods. The University of Birmingham is at the cutting edge of this area and has developed a comprehensive array of analytical facilities, supported and developed by a network of worldleading expert investigators.

Current facilities include the Institute for Biomedical Research (containing the Birmingham MRC Centre for Immune Regulation), CRUK Institute for Cancer Studies, Henry Wellcome Building for Biomolecular Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Birmingham University Stem Cell Centre, Biomedical Services Unit, Centre for Electron Microscopy, Bioinformatics Unit, Centre for Systems Biology and the Functional Genomics & Proteomics Laboratory.

Recent investments are expanding and extending current NMR, proteomics and genomics capabilities, allowing researchers to further study the nano structure and function of molecules of biological significance. New and proven technologies for drug discovery, metabolomics, proteomics and structural biology are developed and provided through these facilities. The facilities currently house the world?s most powerful magnets and fastest robotics for molecular research, including a 900 MHz spectrometer and cryogenic probes providing the greatest level of sensitivity and resolution available.

Translation of basic research through to patient benefit and clinical practice is supported by a unified Clinical Trials Unit (CRUK and DoH core funded) and the highly successful Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility (WT-CRF). The WTCRF was recently awarded a grant to expand and develop its facilities, to include the only dedicated paediatrics CRF in the UK. Numerous trials are underway, many involving interactions with key pharmaceutical partners. The college is also committed to working with smaller biotechnology companies, particularly in early phase (phase I/II) trials. Other clinically orientated research facilities include the CRUK Clinical Cancer Research Centre, CRUK-DH Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, Centre for Clinical Haematology, Birmingham University Imaging Centre, MRC GMP IVF facility (with Birmingham Women?s Hospital), National Blood Service Birmingham and West Midlands Regional Genetics Laboratory at Birmingham Women?s Hospital.


Significant regional and national investment is allowing the University of Birmingham to extend its already impressive translational research activities and facilities. These developments build on existing regional expertise and partnerships with key NHS trusts to improve access to patients, infrastructure and facilities and will support Translational Research activities ? from the discovery and development of new approaches to improve management of human disease to clinical trials of new medical technologies.

Key activities in Birmingham will provide a dedicated new building for Translational Research, housing a human tissue Biorepository and gene therapy pharmacy. The Biorepository will enhance university and NHS collection and storage of human samples and underpin a wide range of research. This facility will also enable businesses and academic collaborators to access high-quality tissue samples for pre-clinical studies. Spin-out hatchery facilities will support establishment and development of early stage companies.


Some examples of new research breakthroughs include community screening for heart failure and stroke prevention, discovery of new genes and pathways underpinning cancer, neurological and liver disease, and exciting new therapeutic interventions focused around gene and immunotherapy programmes, male infertility and new drugs for patients with obesity-diabetes.


The research environment developed by the College of MDS at the University of Birmingham enables researchers to make ground-breaking discoveries underpinning development of future medical therapies and diagnostics. Members of the college currently work with a range of sponsors and collaborators to maximise the impact and translation of research and are continuously seeking development partners in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors. An active programme to identify, protect and commercialise current and future IP arising from its vibrant research activities has enabled the college to develop a portfolio of technologies that are available for co-development or licensing.

For more information, contact:
Dr Kate Bishop
Research Business Development Manager
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT
Tel: 0121 414 3115

Added the 11 September 2008 in category Innovation UK Vol4-1

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