This joint initiative from the MRC and Wellcome Trust will provide exciting new opportunities to better understand the fundamental causes of disease such as obesity and diabetes and translate that knowledge into improved therapiesProfessor Stephen O’Rahilly
The Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Trust are to invest £24m into obesity research led by the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science (IMS). The IMS, based on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, will investigate the causes and health consequences of obesity and develop new approaches to prevent and treat metabolic diseases, such as diabetes.
The IMS is a joint venture between the MRC, Wellcome Trust, University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Co-directed by Professors Steve O’Rahilly and Nick Wareham, it provides a unique environment linking basic and applied science in metabolic diseases.
The Institute houses not only state-of-the-art facilities for laboratory science, clinical and population research, but also purpose-built clinics providing out-patient care for children and adults with metabolic and endocrine disorders.
This close link to patients ensures that advances in basic science can be applied rapidly to improving patient care and disease prevention. The IMS is also close to the largest concentration of biotechnology companies in Europe, creating excellent opportunities for industrial collaboration.
Funding from the MRC will establish a new MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit (MDU) at the IMS, under the direction of Professor O’Rahilly, as well as new programmes of research at the existing MRC Epidemiology Unit and MRC Human Nutrition Research. The Wellcome Trust investment will create an enhanced Clinical Research Facility dedicated to metabolic studies, as well as providing funding for major core laboratory equipment and studies in animal models.
Stephen O’Rahilly, Co-Director of the Wellcome Trust-MRC IMS and Director of the MRC MDU, University of Cambridge, said: "This joint initiative from the MRC and Wellcome Trust will provide exciting new opportunities to better understand the fundamental causes of disease such as obesity and diabetes and translate that knowledge into improved therapies.”
Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said: “Obesity has become an urgent public health issue as research continues to reveal its detrimental effects. With obesity doubling between 1980 and 2008 – a span of less than 30 years – investing in obesity research has never been more critical, and the University is delighted with the support of the MRC and the Wellcome Trust.”
Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the MRC, said: “Obesity is one of the biggest challenges facing the future health of the developed world and understanding the causes and consequences of this condition are major research priority. The MRC is very happy to be partnering with the Wellcome Trust and University of Cambridge in an ambitious joint venture that will unite experts in basic science, population science and experimental medicine to create a world-leading centre for metabolic research.”
Dr Ted Bianco, Acting Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “With obesity rates soaring across the globe, the need to understand the biological, behavioural and environmental factors that influence metabolic diseases has never been greater. This additional investment from us and the MRC reflects the quality of research that is being undertaken at Cambridge and lays the foundations for taking basic scientific discoveries right through to clinical advances.”
The £24m joint investment will be broken down as follows:
• £10.8m from the MRC to establish a new university unit: the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit, University of Cambridge (Directed by Professor Steve O’Rahilly and located at the Wellcome Trust-MRC IMS).
• £10.1m from the Wellcome Trust for basic science infrastructure and new clinical research facilities at the IMS, and to support joint working with the Sanger Institute.
• £2.5m from the MRC for research into biomarkers for diabetes at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge (Directed by Professor Nick Wareham and located at the Wellcome Trust-MRC IMS).
• £1m from the MRC for a collaborative programme to investigate human fat metabolism led by MRC Human Nutrition Research (Directed by Professor Ann Prentice and based at the Elsie Widdowson Laboratory in Cambridge).
Story adapted from Wellcome Trust and MRC press release.
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