Major boost for healthcare research centre

Health news

A successful musculoskeletal research partnership between the University of Leeds and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has been extended for a further five years.

The NIHR Leeds Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) addresses urgent challenges of an ageing population, and the reality that patients do not live with just one disease but with multiple conditions. 

The centre has received a £19.8m grant from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to continue its work. An international centre of excellence, it has focused on providing individually targeted, cost-effective therapies that improve the lives of those living with musculoskeletal disease. 

This substantial investment will enable us to foster even closer collaboration, and help to support our on-going work addressing health inequalities within our region.

Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres are partnerships between healthcare professionals and academics in the country’s leading NHS trusts and universities. The centres receive substantial and sustained funding to attract the best scientists and create an environment where experimental medicine can thrive. 

Leeds’ Vice-Chancellor Professor Simone Buitendijk said: “This substantial investment in the University's successful partnership with the Trust is wonderful news. It will enable us to foster even closer collaboration across our areas of expertise, and help to support our on-going work addressing health inequalities within our region.” 

Making a difference

Professor Philip Conaghan, Director of the NIHR Leeds BRC and Professor of Musculoskeletal Medicine in Leeds’ School of Medicine, said: “I am thrilled at the funding award of £19.8milllion by the NIHR for the Leeds BRC, which represents a three-fold increase. This will allow the foundation of sustained excellence that has been established in Leeds in musculoskeletal disease to now expand across research, in heart disease, cancer, and infection.  

“This new BRC is an exciting step-change, reflecting the joint ambition of the strong Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and University of Leeds partnership, to address urgent clinical challenges of an ageing population, with the reality that patients do not live with just one disease but multiple conditions.  

“Our vision is to drive impactful research led by patient need, with patients and the public at the heart of all activities. This can make a meaningful difference to patients and the public, particularly those who are most at need.” 

Strengthening partnerships

The new centre also formalises Leeds’ academic partnership with the University of York, bringing their expertise in haematology into the new BRC. 

The Leeds centre is one of 20 across the UK to receive a share of nearly £800 million in NIHR funding under the new award, following an open and competitive process judged by international experts and members of the public. It will support UK research over the next five years in areas such as cancer, mental health, dementia and infectious diseases. 

Sir Julian Hartley, Chief Executive at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “I am delighted to hear the news of the funding award to the NIHR Leeds BRC. This increased level of funding will enable the BRC to capitalise on advances in technology, including harnessing advances in diagnostics, pathology, and therapeutic technologies including robotics, and artificial intelligence. This has the potential to improve patient outcomes and quality of care. 

“The NIHR Leeds BRC is a vital part of the Trust and a key element in our academic collaboration with the University of Leeds and formalises a new partnership with the University of York. The BRC will enhance our joint work with the life sciences industry and further supports the development of an Innovation District with partner organisations across the city.” 

Step change

Eve Roman, Director of the Epidemiology and Cancer Statistics Group at the University of York, said “We are delighted to be part of this exciting new NIHR BRC venture, which marks a step change in ensuring research follows patient need.  Our participation formalizes the strong regional collaborations that exist across haemato-oncology, providing an effective setting within which to further develop and expand.   

“The University of York has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with both Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Leeds; and together with the Hull York Medical School, we are now committed to ensuring the success of this timely initiative which addresses several key issues of concern to researchers, clinicians and patients.” 

Research strengths

Sue Watson, Chair of the NIHR Leeds BRC Patient and Public Involvement/ Engagement (PPIEP) Core Group, said: “It’s such exciting news that the NIHR has funded the Leeds BRC for another five years. This will enable us to continue our excellent MSK research as well as increasing our research themes into other disciplines. This is good news for the City of Leeds and our wider communities. I am looking forward to continue to develop our PPIEP to a high standard for our public contributors and researchers alike.” 

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR, said: “Research by NIHR Biomedical Research Centres has led to a number of ground-breaking new treatments, such as new gene therapies for haemophilia and motor neurone disease, the world-first treatment for Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, a nose-drop vaccine for whooping cough, and the first UK-wide study into the long-term impact of COVID-19. 

“This latest round of funding recognises the strength of expertise underpinning health and care research across the country and gives our nation’s best researchers more opportunities to develop innovative new treatments for patients.” 

Further information

For media enquiries email University of Leeds Press Officer Lauren Ballinger at