Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
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Government welcomes progress in coordination and translation of health research for the benefit of patients

Government welcomes progress in coordination and translation of health research for the benefit of patients

DEPARTMENT FOR INNOVATION, UNIVERSITIES AND SKILLS News Release (OSCHR progress report 181108) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 18 November 2008

The first progress report from the Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research (OSCHR) was submitted to the Government today. The Secretaries of State for Health and Innovation, Universities and Skills have welcomed the report.

OSCHR was established 22 months ago following Sir David Cooksey's recommendations (A review of UK health research funding) for better co-ordination of health research activities across the UK, and a stronger focus on translating basic science into improved care for NHS patients.

The purpose of the OSCHR progress report is to highlight the main elements of the combined approach that has been put in place by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) since the Cooksey review. This period has seen an unprecedented commitment to health research in terms of funding, infrastructure, research programmes and the volume of health research commissioned.

The Government's single health research fund, which will soon top £1.7 billion a year, is distributed in England by the Department of Health to the National Institute for Health Research, and by the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills to the Medical Research Council.

The progress report also announces that the Prime Minister has asked for a set of National Ambitions for Health Research to be developed to build on the progress so far and encourage the translation of major research breakthroughs into new NHS treatments and services. The National Ambitions will be developed independently of Government by the research funding bodies, under the auspices of OSCHR, in consultation with the academic community.

Launching today's report, Professor Sir John Bell, Chairman of OSCHR said:

"I believe that the NIHR and the MRC, together with the Departments of Health in Scotland and Wales, are making very real progress developing and implementing a coordinated translational programme that, globally, is unequalled. Much overlap of remits has been eliminated, there is better coordination between funders, and translational science is beginning to receive a large boost from the new programmes and funding."

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said:

"We are committed to ensuring advances in basic science are swiftly translated into better diagnosis, treatment and care across the NHS.

"Today's report highlights the rapid progress that is being made by the National Institute for Health Research and the Medical Research Council following unprecedented investment from Government."

John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills said:

"I welcome the progress made in implementing the recommendations set out in the Cooksey Review and commend the work of Sir John and OSCHR in achieving a greater coordination of investment in the translation of basic science for clinical benefits. I and the rest of the Cabinet remain strongly convinced that we need to build on the UK's record of world class basic medical research, which is why we have committed £200 million to rebuild the MRC's Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge."

Notes to editors
The Department of Health's budget for health research will rise to £1bn by 2010/11. Most of this is delivered through the National Institute for Health Research. The NIHR provides the NHS in England with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training. Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients. More information about the National Institute for Health Research is available on its website at: http://www.nihr.ac.uk

The Medical Research Council is funded through DIUS as set out in the Allocation of the Science Budget (http://www.dius.gov.uk/publications/URN07114.pdf )

£'000                   2008-09     2009-10     2010-11
      Near Cash               520,409     557,662     588,245
      Non Cash                 27,689      33,686      41,763
      Resource DEL            548,098     591,348     630,008
      Capital Grants           15,492      24,043      32,774
      Direct Capital           41,948      43,081      44,243
      Capital DEL              57,440      67,124      77,017
      Total DEL               605,538     658,472     707,025 


The MRC expects to invest over £130m (£25m in 2007/08, £44m in 2009/10 and £63m in 2010/11) in priority areas agreed with OSCHR
and aligned with the Department of Health's strategies

On 4 November 2008, the Prime Minister asked the Departments of Health and Innovation, Universities and Skills about the development of a new overarching set of national objectives to encourage the translation of major research breakthroughs into new NHS treatments and services within a decade. These will be articulated as a set of 'National Ambitions for Translational Health Research'.

The 'National Ambitions' will be developed independently of Government by the research funding bodies (MRC and NIHR), working collaboratively with the medical and wider research communities and with industry, under the auspices of OSCHR. The approach taken will combine an assessment of clinical need with opportunity assessment based on the state of science internationally and in the UK. This will be informed in part in part by OSCHR's work on UK Health Research Opportunities.

John Denham,Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills announced the the go-ahead of a £200 million rebuild of the internationally renowned Laboratory of Molecular Biology in June this year. Established in 1947, the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) has produced 13 Nobel Prize winners, most recently in 2002, and is where the structure of DNA was discovered and DNA sequencing invented.

For further information contact the department of health press office on 020 7210 5221.

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