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Picture: NIHR Leicester BRC

A biomedical research centre in Leicester is to be given £26 million in funding over the next five years to create groundbreaking treatments, diagnostics, prevention and care for people with a range of diseases and illnesses.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) is a partnership between the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, University of Leicester, Loughborough University and University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group.

Research teams across these institutions will be harnessing the funding and working together to enhance research into areas such as respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and the consequences of inactivity.

Additionally, three new speciality ‘themes’ will also be added to NIHR Leicester BRC’s areas of focus. These are: personalised cancer prevention and treatments; environment and its effect on long-term health conditions; and how data can help develop understanding across multiple long-term health conditions and factors specific to the health of ethnic minority populations.

“This award will help us retain 120 talented investigators and importantly 45 ‘rising stars’, or leaders of the future, who may have otherwise moved away,” said Professor Melanie Davies CBE, Director of the NIHR Leicester BRC. “This is a phenomenal success for our hospital and impacts the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, and will allow us to attract even more investment into our hospitals and universities.”

One of only 20 biomedical research centres in the UK, the Leicester BRC was originally founded in April 2017. The expanded version of the centre will commence in December 2022.

“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,” said Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR. “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.”