Press release

New research professors will help treatments make the leap from the bench to the bedside

UK’s most promising leaders in medical health research awarded a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) professorship

Eight of the UK’s most promising leaders in medical health research will be awarded a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) professorship, the Government announced today.

Each professor will receive around £1.5m of funding to conduct research into conditions that affect millions of patients across the UK. Projects that will be able to go ahead as a result of this announcement include:

  • Helping people living with cancer to have a better quality of life by using a newly identified genetic tumour signature to develop more personalised treatment;
  • Developing new surgical techniques to treat patients with bowel cancer including robotics, biosensors and fluorescent guidance;
  • Working with soldiers and civilians to minimise the long-term debilitating effects that head injuries have on the brain; and
  • Improving care for pregnant women and babies with life-threatening illnesses.

Health Minister Anne Milton said:

“The professors will be given the opportunity to develop their research programmes, but most importantly they won’t stop treating NHS patients. This will help make sure that new ideas make the leap from the bench to the bedside.

“We want to see medical research advance, and to do that it is essential that we nurture the very best researchers to the benefit of NHS patients.”

Promoting and fostering the kind of research that the new NIHR research professors will carry out is one of the Government’s top priorities, and through the Health and Social Care Bill the role that research plays in the health service will continue to be strengthened.

The professors were selected by an international panel of independent experts. The second round of the competition is also opening today, and the next group of NIHR professors will be appointed later in the year.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor at the Department of Health said:

“Each one of these professors already has an impressive track record, and I look forward to working with them in the future and seeing them flourish. They will provide much needed research leadership in their chosen field, and help us build more capacity and capability within the NIHR in very important areas.

“Our original intention was to appoint only five new research professors, but the international expert panel found the quality of applications so high that they advised eight awards should be made.”

Notes to editors

For media enquiries only, please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.

A full list of the new NIHR professors, as well as details of their research and contact details is available on request or via the NIHR website.

Today’s announcement coincides with the start of a new competition for the second round of NIHR Research Professorship competition. These awards are open to health researchers and methodologists with an outstanding record of clinical and applied health research and its effective translation for improved health. More information is available via the NIHR website.

On the 5th December 2011 the Prime Minister launched a new Strategy for UK Life Sciences which aims to continue the country’s record of world-leading innovation in life sciences. In the strategy, the Government describes how it aims to provide a better environment for life sciences, to improve the lives of patients and contribute to economic growth. The strategy highlights the important contribution NIHR research makes to innovation in life sciences, and sets out a number of key actions where NIHR is leading.

About the NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility.  The NIHR provides the NHS 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.

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