Landmark award for Greater Manchester’s devolved health system – £28.5m invested to pioneer lifesaving research and new treatments

Today history has been made as a single Manchester bid has been awarded £28.5m from the NIHR, bringing lifesaving tests and treatments a step nearer for millions of people.

The bid has only been made possible through bringing together the recognised clinical and research expertise from across health and academia, which demonstrates the connectivity and collaboration that is central to making Greater Manchester devolution a success.

The successful bid has been hosted by Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with The University of Manchester and the partnership also involves The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust and is supported by Manchester Academic Health Science Centre. It will see Manchester granted prestigious NIHR Biomedical Research Centre status.

This will drive forward pioneering research into new tests and treatments in the areas of musculoskeletal disease, hearing health, respiratory disease and dermatology and three cancer themes (prevention, radiotherapy and precision medicine).

Manchester’s researchers impressed an international panel of experts with their unique proposals that will accelerate the translation of early stage research into new diagnostic tests and treatments to benefit patients of all ages and backgrounds in Greater Manchester and beyond. This will make Manchester ideally placed to attract further research investment that will give our patients early access to new and ground-breaking treatments and will deliver wider value to the economy.

Jon Rouse, Chief Officer of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the body overseeing the devolution of the £6bn health and social care budget, said:

The new partnership approach under devolution means that we have both the opportunity – and the means – to combine the talents of people from a whole range of areas to benefit our population. This hugely welcome funding is recognition that in Greater Manchester we can combine the best clinical skills with the best research, innovation and academic talent to take huge steps in improving the health and wellbeing of our people.

Professor Ian Bruce, Director of the NIHR Manchester BRC, added: “Working closely with patients, we will use the latest advances in biology, medicine and health technology to better predict disease and likely treatment response. The new diagnostic tests and therapies we develop will enable doctors to offer a more tailored approach and to better personalise treatments to the individual. We are also working on better ways to prevent disease developing in the first place.”

Sir Mike Deegan, Chief Executive of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, explained: “The achievement of a BRC for Manchester is a landmark moment which will see £28.5m directly invested into finding new ways of preventing, predicting and treating some of the major causes of premature death and disability,” commented “Bringing together our research expertise has only been made possible by the unique connectivity which devolution provides.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President & Vice-Chancellor at The University of Manchester, said: “The BRC focuses the research efforts of the University and NHS Partners so that we can address the considerable health needs of Greater Manchester. As the areas of research being targeted by the BRC represent complex global health issues our work also has the potential to have an impact much further afield.”

Roger Spencer, Chief Executive of The Christie, said: “Having a BRC that focuses on three areas of cancer research is to be warmly welcomed. Together with cutting edge advances in treatment such as the new proton beam therapy unit, The Christie is improving research into cancer which means we will be even better able to serve the health needs of this region.”

There will be opportunities for patients and members of the public to shape our research plans throughout the five-year BRC partnership and beyond.  To learn more and get involved contact:


For further information please contact:

Emma Smith, Marketing Manager: (0782 514 2219)

Professor Ian Bruce, BRC Director, is available for interview on Wednesday 14th September by contacting Emma Smith (details above)


The NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (MBRC) is a partnership between Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT) and The University of Manchester (UoM).

The MBRC brings together expertise from across the city to accelerate new discoveries through translational research that will improve health.  The BRC delivery partners are: CMFT; Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust; The Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (The Christie); The University of Manchester; and University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM).

Supported by the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, the MBRC will help clinicians to move towards more proactive approach to medicine by applying P4 principles:

  • Prevent disease;
  • Predict disease progression;
  • Personalise treatment pathways;
  • Empower patients to Participate in their healthcare

The NIHR has awarded £28.5m to CMFT over five years from 1 April 2017, to fund MBRC research posts and biomedical studies in the following areas:

Musculoskeletal diseases

Theme 1:        Musculoskeletal disease
Lead:              Professor Anne Barton

Musculoskeletal disorders, such as arthritis and connective tissue diseases, account for over 20% of all GP consultations and are the second most common cause of disability worldwide.

Building on the work of our NIHR Manchester Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit, the BRC will focus on strategies to prevent arthritis developing in the first place. We are also developing new treatment approaches to arthritis in adults and children and new tests to improve our ability to personalise treatments used. .

Hearing health

Theme 2:        Hearing health
Lead:              Professor Kevin Munro

Hearing loss will soon be the 7th largest global disease burden.  It represents a major public health issue with substantial economic and societal costs.  The BRC is focused on the rapid adoption of discoveries into routine clinical practice to improve health and wellbeing, reduce inequalities and provide value for money.

The BRC will help deliver effective and efficient hearing health across the lifespan – from preventing potentially devastating inherited deafness through to age-related deafness.

Respiratory diseases

Theme 3:        Respiratory disease
Lead:              Professor Jorgen Vestbo

Respiratory diseases are the third most common cause of death and the second most common cause of hospital admissions in the UK.

The BRC will build a better understanding of the underlying causes of respiratory conditions and test new drug compounds aimed at novel targets to modify the disease processes involved and improve symptom control in patients.

Research will focus on earlier diagnosis and more targeted treatment, to maximise the likelihood of a good treatment response for an individual whilst minimising the risks of harm from therapies such as antimicrobial resistance.


Theme 4:        Cutaneous inflammation and repair
Lead:              Professor Chris Griffiths

Skin conditions and poor wound healing have a considerable impact on many people’s quality of life.

The BRC will identify markers and tools, which can be used to personalise treatment plans and identify opportunities to address unmet clinical need for patients suffering from complex wounds, psoriasis, hair loss and light-sensitive conditions.


Theme 5:        Cancer Prevention and Early Detection
Lead:              Professor Gareth Evans

Around 50% of people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.  Cancer prevention and early detection strategies are not currently fully leveraged despite having an important role to play in the fight against cancer.

The BRC will help to improve the targeting of these strategies, by developing the early markers needed to diagnose cancer sooner and rapidly identify whether a treatment is having the desired response.

Theme 6:        Advanced radiotherapy
Lead:              Professor Catharine West

Radiotherapy has an important role to play in the fight against cancer.  Around 40% of those patients cured of cancer have received radiotherapy as part of their treatment.

The BRC will improve the delivery of radiation and develop markers to predict the benefit of different types of radiation and drug-radiation combinations, as well as the risk of long-term side effects,”

Theme 7:                    Cancer precision medicine
Lead:                          Professor Caroline Dive

The BRC will help the NHS to deliver a more personalised and proactive approach to caring for patients with cancer.  Through the precise characterisation of tumours, its research will enable us to develop the diagnostic tests needed to match an individual’s cancer  with the drug most likely to have the desired therapeutic effect.

Work will also focus on helping clinicians to anticipate and appropriately manage drug resistant relapse, a common problem faced by patients with cancer.


Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is a leading provider of specialist healthcare services in Manchester, treating more than a million patients every year. Its seven specialist hospitals (Manchester Royal Infirmary, Saint Mary’s Hospital, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, University Dental Hospital of Manchester, Trafford General and Altrincham Hospitals) and community services are home to hundreds of world class clinicians and academic staff committed to finding patients the best care and treatments.  For more information, go to www.cmft.nhs.ukand

The University of Manchester, a member of the prestigious Russell Group, is the UK’s largest single-site university with 38,600 students. It has 20 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking pioneering, multi-disciplinary teaching and research of worldwide significance. The University is one of the country’s major research institutions, rated fifth in the UK in terms of ‘research power’ (REF 2014), and has had no fewer than 25 Nobel laureates either work or study there. The University had an annual income of just over £1 billion in 2014/15. Visit for further information.

Cancer is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons – examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. #ResearchBeacons

Manchester Academic Health Science Network: The Department of Health accredited Manchester Academic Health Science Centre helps to improve the health of Greater Manchester’s 2.8 million population through the integration of leading research, excellence in medical and healthcare education, and outstanding patient care.

Focusing on Precision Medicine, Experimental Medicine and Health Informatics enables the translation of research into practice at scale and pace as part of the drive to deliver better health outcomes and economic growth.

MAHSC is one of six academic health science centres in England.  Its partners are The University of Manchester, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, Salford Clinical Commissioning Group, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, and University of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust. For more information visit:

The Christie opened in 1901 and is now one of Europe’s leading cancer centres and the largest single-site centre in Europe.  It has one of the largest radiotherapy departments in the world as well as centres in Oldham and Salford.  It also houses the UK’s largest brachytherapy service. The Christie delivers chemotherapy treatment through the largest chemotherapy unit in the UK, as well as via 10 other sites, a mobile chemotherapy unit and in patients’ homes. The Christie is ranked as the 9th most technologically advanced cancer centre in the world and the top centre outside North America. Our NIHR Clinical Research Facility is a large, high quality, dedicated clinical research environment where our patients can participate in complex and early phase clinical trials. Around 600 clinical trials may be taking place at any one time. New developments include the UK’s first NHS high energy proton beam therapy service, due to start treating patients in 2018. The Christie’s School of Oncology provides undergraduate education, clinical professional and medical education – the first of its kind in the UK.

Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust aims to be the safest organisation in the NHS through providing safe, clean and personal care to every patient, every time. We are an integrated provider of hospital, community and primary care services, including the University Teaching Trust. Our team of 7,000 staff provide local services to the City of Salford and specialist services to Greater Manchester and beyond.  We are an Outstanding Trust – the first Trust in the North of England to achieve the highest rating given by the Care Quality Commission.

University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM) is a major acute teaching hospital trust providing services for adults and children at Wythenshawe Hospital and Withington Community Hospital and Community Services. We are recognised as a centre of clinical excellence in a number of specialist areas and provide district general hospital services and specialist tertiary services to our local community.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (