A vote of confidence

A prestigious £400,000 award from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Technology Strategy Board (TSB) will allow top researchers at The University of Nottingham to take their pioneering work from bench to bedside.

The MRC and TSB Biomedical Catalyst Confidence in Concept awards give universities grants to help them develop promising research ideas to the clinical testing stage. This will allow innovative early-stage biomedical and biological research discoveries to be developed to a point where research funders and industry can invest in new drugs and technologies.

The funding will address what Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts calls the “valley of death” between when a bright new idea is developed in the lab and the point where a new diagnostic, drug or technology can be invested in by the market for improving healthcare.

The University of Nottingham is a clear fit with this type of funding. It is already home to Biomedical Imaging, Drug Discovery and Clinical Translational Research Priority Groups which support projects in these key areas.

Herb Sewell, Professor of Immunology at the University and co-applicant of the Confidence in Concept award, said: “A significant amount of high-quality fundamental and discovery science takes place at The University of Nottingham, but translational opportunities are often under exploited.

“This award will be used to accelerate the transition from discovery science to translational research in the fields of diagnostics, disease management, healthcare and disease prevention strategies.”

A University of Nottingham Award Committee will be established, which will develop the translation of discovery towards clinical and commercial application — utilising existing links with industry to provide support and expertise.

Dr Wendy Ewart, Deputy Chief Executive of the MRC, said: “The MRC’s Confidence in Concept awards will empower leading UK universities to respond quickly to emerging translational opportunities as they arise. They will give academic researchers the opportunity to generate enough evidence to leverage further investment from a variety of sources to progress the best ideas, helping to bridge the gap between discovery and development.”

David Bott, Director of Innovation Programmes at the Technology Strategy Board, said: “We are delighted to make these first funding awards through the Biomedical Catalyst, which will help bridge the funding gap between the development of a new idea and investment by the market in a new drug or technology, and provide effective support for the best life science opportunities arising in the UK.”

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