Government invests a further £12.5m in Greater Manchester’s devolved health system to expand pioneering clinical research

In a second boost for Manchester in as many months, a single city-wide bid has been awarded £12.5m by the Department of Health to fund the cutting-edge research space, highly trained staff and specialist equipment required to develop and deliver pioneering new treatments across three NHS sites in Greater Manchester.

This new award is a major achievement for Greater Manchester Devolution, demonstrating synergy that can only be achieved by bringing together clinical and research expertise from across health and academia to deliver patient-orientated commercial and academic clinical research studies.

It will enable expansion of existing clinical research capacity across Manchester and is hosted by Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT) in partnership with The Christie NHS Foundation Trust (The Christie), University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM) and The University of Manchester.

Clinical Research Facilities (CRF) at CMFT, The Christie and UHSM, currently facilitate a total of 6500 visits per year from patients and healthy volunteers involved in research studies.  They provide 24-hour, seven-day inpatient and outpatient research services, including those for children and infants, with over 50 research beds and 20 outpatient consultation rooms across Greater Manchester.

Manchester’s unique proposal will make research more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds across the city region, as well as expanding the volume and types of research undertaken.

In September, the Department of Health announced a £28.5m investment in Manchester under its Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) scheme, which recognises Manchester’s international reputation and will drive forward research in the areas of musculoskeletal disease, hearing health, respiratory disease, dermatology and three cancer themes (prevention, radiotherapy and precision medicine).

This latest investment is provided under the NIHR Clinical Research Facility Scheme and will enable the Manchester CRFs to support researchers working in these areas and many others, representing major causes of premature death and disability for patients in Manchester and beyond.  The Manchester CRFs are supported by the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC).

Lord Peter Smith, Chair of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership Board said: “This reinforces Manchester’s strong credentials in experimental medicine.  The CRFs will play a key role in working with patients, academic and commercial research partners to implement the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Devolution.”

Professor Nick Webb, Director of the Manchester CRF explained: “Our new One Manchester approach consolidates assets across our CRFs and will explore novel ways to drive efficiencies and maximise the impact of our research across Greater Manchester.

“We know that disease burden remains disproportionately high in Manchester and especially in socially disadvantaged groups.  Working with the BRC and NHS organisations across Manchester, our focus will be to increase accessibility of research for people of all ages and backgrounds right across the city region and beyond.”

Sir Michael Deegan, Chief Executive at CMFT said: “Experimental medicine studies can be extremely complex and intensive, requiring specialist facilities. This investment will enable us to expand our world-leading research in this area and provide more patients in Manchester with the opportunity to trial new medicines.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President & Vice-Chancellor at The University of Manchester, added: “We’re delighted to receive this investment, which recognises the excellent research infrastructure we already have in Manchester and will help to further accelerate the translation of basic laboratory research through to treatments that benefit patients.”

Minister for Public Health and Innovation Nicola Blackwood said: “Our investment in this area so far has led to a variety of breakthroughs, including the first new asthma treatment in a decade, and a promising treatment for peanut allergies in children, to name just two.

“We know that such ground breaking clinical research simply would not happen without the support of these Clinical Research Facilities.

“I’m delighted to announce this funding to support the skilled personnel and cutting-edge facilities we need to keep Manchester at the forefront of clinical research.”


More on Manchester’s £12.5m funding under the NIHR’s Clinical Research Facility Scheme

This funding and One Manchester approach will bring together three dedicated research facilities at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT), The Christie NHS Foundation Trust (The Christie); and University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM).

Manchester CRFs provide safe environments where research interventions and treatments can take place.  They provide 24 hour, seven-day in-patient and outpatient research services, including those for children and infants, with over 50 research beds, and over 20 outpatient consultation rooms across Greater Manchester.

Major research areas include cancer, dermatology, musculoskeletal conditions, respiratory disease and hearing loss:

  • NIHR/Wellcome Manchester CRF provides a purpose-built adult’s facility at CMFT and a satellite specialist children’s unit within Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
  • NIHR/Cancer Research UK Christie CRF fully integrates research and systemic anti-cancer therapies services and is used by all specialised cancer research teams.
  • NIHR South Manchester Respiratory and Allergy CRF has expertise in aspergillosis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, interstitial lung disease, chronic cough and allergy.

The One Manchester CRF approach coincides and is consistent with the Manchester Devolution strategy to increase the breadth, depth and velocity of health improvements, reduce health inequalities and further develop the substantial life science economy for the benefit of Greater Manchester and the nation. A major initiative of our unification is to enable access to cutting-edge medical innovation to the whole of the Greater Manchester population.

Manchester CRFs provide highly trained staff, space and specialist equipment for delivering clinical research.

  • Dedicated children’s clinical research facility
  • Plethysmography and lung function equipments
  • BOD POD for estimating body fat
  • Dedicated ophthalmology clinics
  • State-of the-art imaging capabilities including ultrasound, 3T MR and PET/MR
  • Minor procedure
  • Bronchoscopy suites
  • Gait laboratory
  • Dedicated research pharmacy services, enabling us to deliver experimental treatments, including gene therapy using genetically modified class one and two products
  • Clinical trials aseptic units produce around 400 research treatments per month
  •  Cutting edge laboratories and biobanks enable us to store and dispatch PK and PD samples and perform pharmacogenetic analysis with the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine

About the national NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility Funding Scheme

Manchester’s funding is part of a £112million national investment into clinical research facilities across the country. The move will cement Britain’s reputation as a world leader in ground breaking research.

23 NHS organisations in total have been given a share of funding which will pay for specialist research nurses and technical staff, as well as providing cutting-edge facilities to support clinical research and trials.

The money, awarded by the National Institute for Health Research following a competitive application and assessment process, will be provided over the next five years.

The previous round of funding for clinical research facilities led to medical breakthroughs including:

Identifying an effective treatment for peanut allergies in children

  • Leading the first global multi-centre trial of the ‘bionic eye’ in retinitis pigmentosa (RP): the first ever study to combine artificial and natural vision in humans
  • Establishing an innovative and standardised approach to test a novel treatment for cystic fibrosis
  • Developing the first new therapeutic asthma treatment for a decade, reducing the severity and duration of life-threatening asthma attacks