- Medical Research Council (UK)
Medical Research Council
Abbreviation MRC Formation 1913 Legal status Government agency Purpose/focus Funding of UK medical science research Location Holborn, London Region served United Kingdom Chief Executive Sir John Savill Main organ MRC Council (Chairman - Sir John Chisholm) Parent organization BIS, Research Councils UK Affiliations AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, NERC, STFC, TSB, UKSA Budget c. £350 million Website Medical Research Council
The Medical Research Council (the MRC) is a publicly-funded agency responsible for co-ordinating and funding medical research in the United Kingdom. It is one of seven Research Councils in the UK and is answerable to, although politically independent from, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The organisation is dedicated to "improving human health through world-class medical research".
The MRC focuses on high-impact research and has provided the financial support and scientific expertise behind a number of medical breakthroughs, such as the development of penicillin, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer. Research funded by the MRC has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners to date.
The MRC was founded as the Medical Research Committee and Advisory Council in 1913, with its prime role being the distribution of medical research funds under the terms of the National Insurance Act 1911. This was a consequence of the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Tuberculosis, which recommended the creation of a permanent medical research body. The mandate was not limited to tuberculosis, however.
In 1920, it became the Medical Research Council under Royal Charter. A supplementary Charter was formally approved by the Queen on 17 July 2003.
Important work carried out under MRC auspices includes:
- Identification of the dietary cause of rickets by Sir Edward Mellanby
- Discovery, in 1918, that influenza is caused by a virus
- Description of neurotransmission and the first neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, by Sir Henry Hallett Dale and Otto Loewi, leading to a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1936;
- Development of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming, Sir Ernst Boris Chain and Lord Florey, gaining them the 1945 Nobel Prize;
- Linkage of lung cancer to tobacco smoking by Sir Richard Doll and Sir Austin Bradford Hill in the British doctors study, published in 1956;
- Discovery of the structure of DNA by James D. Watson, Francis Crick, Rosalind Franklin and Professor Maurice Wilkins. They would receive the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for their discovery.
- Development of magnetic resonance imaging in 1973 by Professor Peter Mansfield and independently by Paul Lauterbur. This would lead to the 2003 Nobel Prize.
- Development of monoclonal antibodies by César Milstein and Georges Köhler in 1975 (1984 Nobel Prize)
- The identification, in 1983, of folic acid as a preventive measure for spina bifida and neural tube defects
- Large studies, in the 1970s and 1980s, showing that aspirin can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- The publication of the genome of C. elegans, the first multicellular organism to receive this treatment, in 1998.
- The ongoing Heart Protection Study, showing benefits of primary prevention with simvastatin in patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2009 awarded to Dr Venki Ramakrishnan of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology for showing how ribosomes, the tiny protein-making factories inside cells, function at the atomic level.
- Discovery that early treatment of HIV-infected babies with anti-retroviral therapy can dramatically increase their chances of survival.
- Development of a test for detecting infectious prions on surgical instruments which is more accurate than previous tests and 100 times faster.
- Identification of the second ever genetic variant associated with obesity.
- The finding that high quality surgery combined with a short course of radiotherapy can halve the rate of recurrence of colorectal cancer.
In all, scientists associated with the MRC have received 29 Nobel Prizes in either Physiology or Medicine or Chemistry.
Organisation and leadership
The MRC is one of seven Research Councils and since 6 June 2009 has been answerable to, although politically independent from, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) (previously Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS)). In the past, the MRC has been answerable to the Office of Science and Innovation, part of the Department of Trade and Industry.
The MRC is governed by a council of 14 members, which convenes every two months. Its Council, which directs and oversees corporate policy and science strategy, ensures that the MRC is effectively managed, and makes policy and spending decisions. Council members are drawn from industry, academia, government and the NHS. Members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. Daily management is in the hands of the Chief Executive. Members of the council also chair specialist boards on specific areas of research. For specific subjects, the council convenes committees.
As Chief Executive Officers (originally secretaries) served:
- 1914-33: Sir Walter Morley Fletcher
- 1933-49: Sir Edward Mellanby
- 1949-68: Sir Harold Himsworth
- 1968-77: Sir John Gray
- 1977-87: Sir James Gowans
- 1987-96: Sir Dai Rees
- 1996-2003: Professor Sir George Radda
- 2003-2007: Professor Colin Blakemore
- 2007-2010: Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz
- 2010–present: Sir John Savill
- 1913-1916: The Rt Hon. Lord Moulton
- 1916-1920: Major The Hon.Waldorf Astor
- 1920-1924: The Viscount Goschen
- 1924: The Rt Hon. Edward F.L.Wood
- 1924-1929: The Rt Hon. the Earl of Balfour
- 1929-1934: The Rt Hon. Viscount D'Abernon
- 1934-1936: The Most Hon. The Marquess of Linlithgow
- 1936-1948: Lord Balfour of Burleigh
- 1948-1951: The Rt Hon. Viscount Addison
- 1952-1960: The Earl of Limerick
- 1960-1961: The Rt Hon. The Viscount Amory
- 1961-1965: The Rt Hon. Lord Shawcross
- 1965-1969: The Rt Hon. The Viscount Amory
- 1969-1978: His Grace the Duke of Northumberland
- 1978-1982: The Rt Hon. The Lord Shepherd
- 1982-1990: The Rt Hon. Earl Jellicoe
- 1990-1998: Sir David Plastow
- 1998-2006: Sir Anthony Cleaver
- 2006-Present: Sir John Chisholm
Institutes, centres and units
The MRC has 27 units and three institutes in the UK and one unit in each of The Gambia and Uganda. It also has 28 centres offering partnerships with UK universities to develop centres of scientific excellence: Three 'lifelong health' research centres were announced in 2008, funded by the MRC, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, as part of the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programme:
The MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) is planned to move to the new Francis Crick Institute in 2015. The Francis Crick Institute is a partnership between the MRC, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.
The following is a list of the MRC's current institutes, centres and units:
- MRC/University of Birmingham Centre for Immune Regulation (based at the University of Birmingham)
- MRC/University of Sussex Centre in Genome Damage and Stability (based at the University of Sussex)
- MRC Centre for Causal Analyses in Translational Epidemiology
- MRC/University of Bristol Centre for Synaptic Plasticity (based at the University of Bristol)
- MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (based at Cardiff University)
- MRC Biostatistics Unit
- MRC Cancer Cell Unit
- MRC Centre for Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (BCNI) (based at the University of Cambridge)
- MRC Centre for Nutritional Epidemiology in Cancer Prevention and Survival (CNC) (based at the University of Cambridge)
- MRC Centre for Obesity and Related Metabolic Diseases (based at the University of Cambridge)
- MRC Centre for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (based at the University of Cambridge)
- MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (CBSU)
- MRC Epidemiology Unit
- MRC Human Nutrition Research
- MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB)
- MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit
- MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit (based at the University of Dundee)
- MRC Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (based at the University of Edinburgh)
- MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine (based at the University of Edinburgh)
- MRC Human Genetics Unit
- MRC Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy
- MRC/University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research (based at the University of Edinburgh)
- MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS
- MRC (UK) The Gambia
- MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (based at the University of Glasgow)
- MRC Institute of Hearing Research (based at the University of Glasgow)
- MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (based at the University of Glasgow)
- MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit
- Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH)
- MRC Toxicology Unit (based at the University of Leicester)
- MRC Centre for Drug Safety Science (based at the University of Liverpool)
- MRC Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma (based at King's College London)
- MRC Cell Biology Unit (based at University College London)
- MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health (based at University College London)
- MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology (based at King's College London)
- MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health (jointly based at King's College London and Imperial College London)
- MRC/University College London Centre for Medical Molecular Virology (based at University College London)
- MRC Centre for Neurodegeneration Research (based at King's College London)
- MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases (based at University College London)
- MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling (based at Imperial College London)
- MRC Centre for Transplantation (based at King's College London)
- MRC Clinical Sciences Centre (CSC) (based at Imperial College London)
- MRC Clinical Trials Unit (CTU)
- The Crucible Centre (based at University College London)
- MRC General Practice Research Framework (GPRF)
- MRC International Nutrition Group (based at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)
- MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) including the MRC Biomedical NMR Centre
- MRC Prion Unit (based at University College London)
- MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre (based at King's College London)
- MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, home of the National Survey of Health & Development
- Centre for Brain Ageing and Vitality (based at Newcastle University)
- MRC Institute of Hearing Research (based at the University of Nottingham)
- MRC Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit
- MRC Centre for Genomics and Global Health
- MRC/Cancer Research UK/BHF Clinical Trial Service Unit & Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU)
- MRC Functional Genomics Unit (based at the University of Oxford)
- MRC/Cancer Research UK Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology (based at the University of Oxford)
- MRC Human Immunology Unit (based at the University of Oxford)
- MRC Molecular Haematology Unit
- MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics (based at the University of Sheffield)
- MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit
- ^ a b c d "Units, centres and institutes". Medical Research Council. http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Ourresearch/Unitscentresinstitutes/UnitCentreDetails/index.htm. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
- ^ "Press release: £250 million commitment to UKCMRI". MRC National Institute for Medical Research. 26 March 2010. http://www.nimr.mrc.ac.uk/news/250-million-commitment-to-ukcmri/. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
- MRC official website
- MRC Biography for Sir John Savill, CEO
- Unit, centre and institute profiles
- Research Councils UK
- Human Genetic Unit
- Annual Reviews
- The Francis Crick Institute
- Social & Public Health Sciences Unit
- NIMR official website
Francis Crick Institute Partners Other
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