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Southampton asthma researchers win share of EU grant

RatkoDjukanovic

Southampton researchers studying the treatment of severe asthma have won a share of a €23m grant.

Experts at the city’s Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit (BRU), based at Southampton General Hospital, are among a consortium of 14 European academic centres of excellence to receive a slice of the funding.

The BRU, a partnership between Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Southampton, will use its share to pursue research into severe asthma, using methods developed in Southampton’s renowned lipid and protein research centres.

The funding comes as part of a major investment drive by the European Union called Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), which is designed to remove bottlenecks in the discovery and development of new drugs.

The project means that, for the first time, academics will work closely and comprehensively with pharmaceutical companies and enterprises to quickly progress drug development.

Professor Ratko Djukanovic, director of the Southampton National Institute for Health Research BRU, was one of three initiators of the programme.

He said: “Academics from different universities often work together to complement expertise and enhance research projects, but this is the first time they have joined forces with large pharma companies and enterprises to create a cohesive team.

“Critically, the discoveries from this programme will be publicly owned and immediately made available for the benefit of all.”

The work to be conducted in Southampton will play a key role in the definition of new subsets of asthma and will take advantage of the state-of-the art research facilities on offer at the city’s university hospitals.

Dr Michael Marsh, SUHT medical director, said: “The partnership between the Trust and the UoS is a real success, which is clear from our joint selection as venues for two leading BRUs, one in respiratory medicine and the other in nutrition.

“Such status has enabled us to become part of this unique consortium and take a share of the research grant, making this Trust one of the best places for clinicians and scientists to work together for the direct benefit of patients.”

Professor Iain Cameron, head of the school of medicine, added: “This is a great achievement for Southampton. Not only does it reflect the excellent research conducted in Southampton, but also shows the benefits of close integration of scientists and clinicians across the University and SUHT and enhances our international reputation.”

Posted on Wednesday 3 June 2009