IMS- Institute of Metabolic Science

MRC-supported initiatives on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus aim to combat health problems linked with obesity and lifestyle.

The new Centre for Public Health Research will provide the evidence-base for public health interventions, with the aim of improving diet and physical activity across the population.

Obesity, and its associated health problems, including type 2 diabetes, metabolic disorders and some cancers, has become one of the most pressing public health issues in the developed world. It is estimated that the number of premature deaths attributable to obesity is around 30,000 each year, costing the National Health Service an estimated £1 billion annually. Recently released statistics from the National Health Service ( show that nearly a quarter of all adults and 16% of children in England are classified as obese and that the problem is escalating.

Responding to these challenges, two new developments on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus at Addenbrooke’s Hospital will break new ground in translating medical research to patient care: the Institute of Metabolic Science (IMS), under the joint leadership of Professors Steve O’Rahilly and Nick Wareham, and the Centre for Public Health Research Excellence in Diet and Physical Activity, directed by Professor Wareham.

The IMS, which will be officially launched on 24 July 2008, is a tri-institutional partnership between the MRC, the University and the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Its visionary strategy is to link research into the fundamental understanding of obesity and metabolic diseases directly to patient care through the three initiatives it houses: the MRC Epidemiology Unit; the University of Cambridge’s cross-departmental Metabolic Research Laboratory (MRL), which includes the MRC Centre for Obesity and Related Metabolic Diseases; and the Clinical Care Centre for treating patients.

In January this year it was announced that the Institute of Public Health would be one of five Centres of Excellence across the UK to tackle public health issues that have a significant impact on the health of the nation. The new Centre for Public Health Research will provide the evidence-base for public health interventions, with the aim of improving diet and physical activity across the population. Funding was provided under the umbrella of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC), a partnership of funders led by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and including the MRC, which together have invested £20 million over five years to establish the Centres of Excellence.

‘These are interesting developments for Cambridge,’ said Professor Wareham. ‘They provide depth to a balanced approach to investigating the underlying causes of obesity and metabolic disorders, as well as simultaneously researching individual and population approaches to prevention.’

Please visit for more information on the IMS, and for more information on the Centre for Public Health Research Excellence in Diet and Physical Activity.


Medical Research Council

<div>The mission of the Medical Research Council (MRC) is to support the best research and training to improve human health. With a portfolio that encompasses MRC Units and Institutes, universities and hospitals, the MRC funds research that ranges from fundamental molecular biology through animal models and clinical research to population studies.</div> <div> <div> <p> </p> <p>Much of what the MRC does is in conjunction with the Health Departments in England and the devolved administrations, the National Health Service, other research councils, industry and charities. This research has led to some of the most significant discoveries in medical science and has benefited millions of people in the UK and around the world. But the benefits go beyond improvements in health care. A study commissioned by the University of Cambridge and others shows that the University’s impact on the economy is considerable. MRC-supported research in life sciences is a substantial contributor to this.</p> <ul> <li>Each year, the MRC spends more than £60 million supporting the eight MRC research establishments in Cambridge (comprising over 1000 scientists and students), many of which work in partnership with research groups in the University.</li> <li>The planned building of the new MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) will be the flagship of the newly expanded Cambridge Biomedical Campus and includes space for research groups from the Clinical School.</li> <li>Neuroscience, cancer and metabolic science are important research areas in Cambridge: the MRC recently awarded £2 million to Professor Carol Brayne to study healthy life and cognition across generations and £1 million to Professor Ashok Venkitaraman towards the new Cambridge Molecular Therapeutics Programme. Much of the research in the new Institute of Metabolic Science is funded by the MRC.</li> <li>In the past two financial years alone, the MRC has awarded 58 grants and fellowships to the University worth over £40 million, including many for fundamental science such as the recent grant to Drs Helen Mott and Darerca Owen.</li> </ul> <p>The MRC is now particularly keen to encourage ambitious longer term proposals (for up to five years), both from established researchers and from those new to the MRC. Following the recent settlement for the science budget, MRC funding is set to increase to £682 million a year by 2010, as part of the alignment with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and other public sector funders. Through a single health research strategy, the MRC will be able to translate scientific findings into benefits for patients as quickly as possible, as well as continuing to attract international investment and fuel the ever-growing knowledge economy.</p> </div> </div> <p> </p>

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