Science we support

The MRC delivers research excellence through a series of flexible investment mechanisms targeted at meeting the specific needs of molecular and cellular medicine research. Through the Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board (MCMB) we are keen to support all research that falls within this remit.

Our funding can support collaborative, multidisciplinary research that brings the best expertise and technologies to tackle the major challenges in biomedicine. The usual support mechanism is grants awarded to UK Higher Education Institutions.

Each year an annual MRC research and training portfolio report is prepared for Council presenting a high-level view of the current MRC research portfolio, and showing changes resulting from various funding trends and initiatives over time. A molecular and cellular medicine extract of the report (PDF 187KB) (PDF, 188KB) is available.

Major strategic investments

Where more concerted investment is needed, the MRC invests through institutes, units and centres, incorporating strong leadership, mission-focused research activities, and applying innovative technology and methodology to tackle major, long-term research challenges.

Major and strategic research programmes relevant to molecular and cellular medicine are supported through the following investments:


MRC Clinical Sciences Centre (London)
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Cambridge)
MRC National Institute for Medical Research / The Francis Crick Institute (London)


MRC Cancer Unit, Cambridge 
MRC Laboratory for Molecular and Cellular Biology, London 
MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine and MRC Human Genetics Unit, Edinburgh 
MRC Mammalian Genetic Unit, Harwell 
MRC Mary Lyon Centre, Harwell 
MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit, Cambridge 
MRC/CRUK Institute for Radiation Oncology, Oxford 
MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine and MRC Molecular Haematology Unit, Oxford 
MRC Protein Phosphorylation & Ubiquitylation Unit, Dundee 
MRC Toxicology Unit, Leicester


MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Edinburgh 
MRC Centre for Drug Safety Science, Liverpool
MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, London 
Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Cambridge

There are times when the MCMB needs to develop priority areas for investment to help address major needs and opportunities in science. These priorities are shaped in part through board strategy discussions that are held every 12-18 months.

Summary of MCMB's latest strategy discussions (PDF 69KB) (PDF, 69KB).

Current priorities

The MRC’s high-level research priorities and how these will be tackled are summarised in the strategic plan. MCMB’s science underpins many of these research priorities including in particular: repair and replacement (e.g. regenerative medicine), molecular datasets and disease (e.g. medical bioinformatics, chemical/synthetic biology, epigenetics), environment and health, and capacity and skills (e.g. Integrative Toxicology Training Partnership and training through our institutes and units). 

Download a strategy for UK regenerative medicine

Within these high-level priorities, the MCMB takes responsibility for a number of focused activities, including primary responsibility for the MRC’s Regenerative Medicine strategy (PDF, 1.60MB), which incorporates strategic funding for new translational initiatives, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.

In addition, the MCMB wishes to encourage high-quality proposals in the following priority research areas:

  • Environmental exposure and chronic disease - develop and apply measurements of exposure and effect to improve our understanding of how the environment interacts with biology and impacts health.
  • Radiation oncology & biology - priority in fundamental and translational research relevant to human health and the treatment of cancer.
  • The Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH) - to utilise the space and facilities within the Research Complex at Harwell and those on the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) site, including Diamond synchrotron, ISIS neutron facility, Central Laser Facility.
  • Integrative Toxicology Training Partnership - national MRC-funded programme delivered through the MRC Toxicology Unit to strengthen training, academic networking and capacity building across complementary disciplines of toxicology research.

Recent investment highlights

Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics: MRC have recently renewed investment in the North West England Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Fellowship Scheme delivered through the MRC Centre for Drug Safety Science, Liverpool. 

High throughput science: In 2013/14 the MRC invested £6.5m to support high throughput science (e.g. genomics or proteomics) or imaging analyses to enrich major MRC investments in cohort studies, human tissue resources and animal model collections.

Medical bioinformatics: In 2013/14 MRC invested £39m through six major strategic awards in medical bioinformatics. The investments will strengthen collaborative links, improve tools and infrastructure for researchers, and support the safe use of biological and patient data for medical research across all diseases.

Optical imaging: In 2012/13 MRC in partnership with BBSRC and EPSRC invested £25.5m (£21.1m from MRC) to establish 17 microscopy platforms across the UK that will bring about ground breaking advances in biological and biomedical research.