Southampton researchers awarded £17m to progress pioneering work

Clinicians and scientists at Southampton’s university hospitals have been awarded £17m to progress the city’s world-leading nutrition and respiratory research.

The funding, which is part of the government’s record £800m investment in NHS and university partnerships, has secured the future of the Southampton Centre for Biomedical Research (SCBR) for the next five years.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) respiratory biomedical research unit (BRU) and the nutrition, diet and lifestyle biomedical research centre (BRC) – two key components of the SCBR, a joint venture between Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Southampton – focus on taking research out of the laboratory and into the clinic.

Having already shown how poor nutrition in childhood can set the stage for chronic ill health in later life, experts recently discovered that a child’s chances of developing allergies or wheezing is related to how they grow at vital stages in the womb.

“It is testament to the quality and expertise of clinicians and scientists within the Trust and the University of Southampton that the government and our fellow professionals nationally and internationally are so strong in their support both clinically and financially,” said Christine McGrath, director of research and development at SUHT.

“This huge investment is a striking endorsement of our achievements to-date but also of our ambition to move forward and continue to be at the forefront of medical developments.”

The respiratory BRU, which specialises in looking at new therapies for diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis and neonatal, paediatric and adult intensive care, has been allocated £7.3m, while the NIHR review panel’s decision to increase funds for the nutrition, diet and lifestyle BRC based on the quality of its application means it will receive a total of £9.6m.

Professor Ratko Djukanovic, director of the respiratory BRU and a professor of medicine at the University of Southampton, said: “We are extremely pleased that the results we have achieved over the past three years and the direct effect we are having on clinical research worldwide has been recognised with such significant funding.”

Professor Iain Cameron, dean of the University of Southampton’s faculty of medicine, said: “This backing enables Southampton to continue as a major player in national and international health policies and initiatives to develop new therapies, and allows further development of our expertise and innovation.”

Andrew Lansley, secretary of state for health, added: “This investment will see scientists in Southampton contribute to the UK-wide development of exciting new science into tangible, effective treatments that can be used across the NHS.”

Posted on Friday 19 August 2011