Multimillion Pound Investment to Benefit People Living With Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Neuromuscular Disease and Rare Disease.

The Department of Health & Social Care announced last week that it has awarded Newcastle £23.1m funding for its world-leading research in ageing and multiple long-term conditions. We are delighted that this investment will support our research teams within both the John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre (JWMDRC) and Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research (WCMR) and will help us better understand and develop treatments for a range of conditions, including genetic neuromuscular diseases and mitochondrial dysfunction. 

By Lyndsey Butterworth & John Dawson.

The funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is for the Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) which combines world-class strengths in ageing and multiple long-term conditions research with extensive experimental medicine infrastructure. The aim of this is to accelerate the translation of lab-based activity into practical and meaningful benefits for patients, the public and the health and care system.

Professor Grainne Gorman. Photo: Dru Dodd Photography.

Professor Gráinne Gorman, Neuromuscular Disease Theme co-lead for the Newcastle BRC and Director of the WCMR, said “This award is fantastic news for everyone involved and provides us with an incredible opportunity to strengthen the international reputation of The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust and Newcastle University as global leaders in the field of neuromuscular, mitochondrial and rare diseases. Our work is at the heart of the new NIHR BRC at Newcastle and will contribute significantly to the cross-disciplinary and collaborative approach needed to improve therapy options, outcomes, and quality of life for people with a rare disease.”

Over the last 15 years, the Newcastle BRC has harnessed expertise in a number of different research areas to address the many health challenges facing our ageing population. The new funding will allow further advances in both neuromuscular and mitochondrial research and promises to directly benefit those living with these conditions and other rare diseases over the lifetime of the award and beyond.

Professor Volker Straub, Neuromuscular Disease Theme co-lead for the Newcastle BRC and Director of the JWMDRC, said  ”We are absolutely delighted with this NIHR award and would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed towards the successful application. Moving forward, the strategic rationale of our BRC theme is to systematically develop and evaluate novel approaches to diagnosing, monitoring and treating neuromuscular disease and mitochondrial dysfunction, and to extend the application of these technologies across the broader spectrum of rare diseases using the unique opportunity offered by the Newcastle Centre for Rare Disease.”

Professor Volker Straub.
Photo: John Millard/Newcastle University.

“Through a cross-theme approach that will draw on expertise in all areas of the Newcastle BRC and in collaboration with the Newcastle Centre for Rare Disease, the funding will allow us to address the unmet clinical needs in rare disease medicine. This will be facilitated by our world-leading experts in rare disease research and the myriad of strategic partnerships within our disease portfolio, which will ultimately lead to benefits for the whole rare disease community”.

The NIHR currently funds 20 BRCs, 12 of which have received additional investment in this new funding round. Over the past nine years, the BRCs have supported almost 60,000 studies and published 55,000 research papers, as well as supported the career development of more than 14,000 junior doctors and research scientists. This is an important objective of the Neuromuscular Disease, Rare Diseases & Mitochondrial Dysfunction BRC theme, which aims to attract, develop, and retain a diverse and inclusive team of outstanding scientists, health care professionals and research support staff, whilst also promoting creativity, encouraging resilience, and equipping our next generation of academics to become global leaders at the forefront of medical breakthroughs.

Professor Gorman added, “Our vision is to create a sustainable healthier nation and workforce, where knowledge and creativity is shared to accelerate cutting-edge healthcare for all, underpinned by world-class science through innovation in interdisciplinary research, engagement, and education. The Newcastle BRC presents an unrivalled opportunity to fulfil this goal, not least because of the diversity, quality, and brilliance of many of the early career and established researchers, who we will bring together in this programme of work.”