Medical Research Council (United Kingdom)

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is a publicly funded government 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 MRC focuses on high-impact research and has provided the financial support and scientific expertise behind a number of medical breakthroughs, including the development of penicillin and the discovery of the structure of DNA. Research funded by the MRC has produced 30 Nobel Prize winners to date.

 

Notable research

Important work carried out under MRC auspices has included:

 

The identification of the dietary cause of rickets by Sir Edward Melany;[5]

The discovery, in 1918, that influenza is caused by a virus;[6]

the 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;

The development of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming, Sir Ernst Boris Chain and Lord Florey, gaining them the 1945 Nobel Prize;[7]

linkage of lung cancer to tobacco smoking by Sir Richard Doll and Sir Austin Bradford Hill in the British doctors study, published in 1956;[8]

The discovery of the structure of DNA by James D. Watson, Francis Crick, Rosalind Franklin and Professor Maurice Wilkins.[9] Three would receive the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for their discovery;

The development of magnetic resonance imaging in 1973 by Professor Peter Mansfield and independently by Paul Lautenberg. This would lead to the 2003 Nobel Prize;[10]

The development of monoclonal antibodies [11] 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;[12]

The conducting of large studies in the 1970s and 1980s which established 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,[13] showing benefits of primary prevention with simvastatin in patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease;

Dr Venki Ramakrishnan of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology winning the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009[14] for showing how ribosomes, the tiny protein-making factories inside cells, function at the atomic level;

The discovery that early treatment of HIV-infected babies with anti-retroviral therapy can dramatically increase their chances of survival;

The development of a test for detecting infectious prions on surgical instruments which is more accurate than previous tests and 100 times faster;

The identification of the second ever genetic variant associated with obesity;[15] and

The finding that high quality surgery combined with a short course of radiotherapy can halve the rate of recurrence of colorectal cancer.[16]

 

Scientists associated with the MRC have received a total of 29 Nobel Prizes, all in either Physiology or Medicine or Chemistry [17]

The following is a list of the MRC's current institutes, centres and units:

Birmingham

 

MRC/University of Birmingham Centre for Immune Regulation (based at the University of Birmingham)

Brighton

MRC/University of Sussex Centre in Genome Damage and Stability (based at the University of Sussex)

Bristol

MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit

Cambridge

MRC Biostatistics Unit

MRC Cancer Unit

MRC Centre for Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (BCNI) (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 Metabolic Diseases Unit

MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit

Cardiff

MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (based at Cardiff University)

Dundee

MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit (based at the University of Dundee)

Edinburgh

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 Centre for Reproductive Health, 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)

Entebbe

MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS

Fajarra

MRC (UK) The Gambia

Glasgow

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)

Harwell

MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit

Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH)

Leicester

MRC Toxicology Unit (based at the University of Leicester)

Liverpool

MRC Centre for Drug Safety Science (based at the University of Liverpool)

London

 

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 Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection (based at Imperial 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-HPA Centre for Environment and Health (jointly based at King's College London and Imperial College London)

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 (planned to move to the new Francis Crick Institute in 2015, a partnership between the MRC, Cancer Research UK, Imperial College London, King's College London, the Wellcome Trust and University College London)[22]

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

MRC/University College London Centre for Medical Molecular Virology (based at University College London)

Newcastle

Centre for Brain Ageing and Vitality (based at Newcastle University)

Nottingham

MRC Institute of Hearing Research (based at the University of Nottingham)

Oxford

MRC Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit

MRC/Cancer Research UK/BHF Clinical Trial Service Unit & Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU)

MRC/Cancer Research UK Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology (based at the University of Oxford)

MRC Centre for Genomics and Global Health

MRC Functional Genomics Unit (based at the University of Oxford)

MRC Human Immunology Unit (based at the University of Oxford)

MRC Molecular Haematology Unit

Sheffield

MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics (based at the University of Sheffield)

Southampton

MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit