Experimental medicine

Experimental Medicine is an exciting, high profile area in which there has been a rapid and major increase in interest and activities.

The MRC has been made the lead public sector organisation for Experimental Medicine by the Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research (OSCHR) and co-ordinates activities on behalf of UK Clinical Research Collaboration partners.

What is Experimental medicine?

Experimental medicine is a broad term and refers to:

“Investigation undertaken in humans, relating where appropriate to model systems, to identify mechanisms of pathophysiology or disease, or to demonstrate proof-of-concept evidence of the validity and importance of new discoveries or treatments.”

Experimental medicine precedes and informs the development of late phase clinical trials. Effective translation of results from experimental medicine studies into later phase clinical research is an important outcome of experimental medicine, as is the generation of new hypotheses to be explored in the laboratory.

MRC and experimental medicine

Experimental medicine is a core element of our overarching translational research strategy; the translation of discoveries from basic laboratory and clinical science into benefits for human health. Such early clinical studies provide the key bi-directional link between fundamental discovery and later stage testing of new treatments in patients.

MRC’s track record in fostering experimental medicine

Experimental medicine is not a new area for us, as we have supported a series of strategic initiatives, targeted at specific points key to enabling experimental medicine in recent years.

These include:

Two key calls in experimental medicine

Focused on first in human ‘proof of concept’ studies to continue to strengthen experimental medicine research in the UK.

Two calls in biomarker development and evaluation

To evaluate potential biomarkers (surrogate indicators of a biologic state or process) in diagnosis of disease, disease heterogeneity and underlying mechanisms, susceptibility, exposure or response to interventions.

Strategic awards for research on the evaluation and validation of human and animal models of disease

As part of our strategic initiatives to target ‘bottlenecks’ in translation, we aimed to commit up to £10 million for research grants on the evaluation and validation of human and animal models of disease, in vivoin vitro and in silico.

Patient cohort awards

An unprecedented initiative to create small, extensively-defined groups of patients to help detect, treat or prevent disease.

Patient Research Cohorts Initiative – summary of cohorts (PDF, 164KB)

Stem cell research awards

Stem cell research has the potential to result in life-saving treatments and is an important part of the MRC’s portfolio and translational strategy – we continue to support research on both adult and embryonic stem cells.

MRC leading coordination in experimental medicine

We lead the public sector organisation for experimental medicine in the context of the MRC/NIHR activities co-ordinated by the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR).

There are a number of major stakeholders in the UK with strong overlapping interests in the field, working together through the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC).

We also provide coordination of the UKCRC Experimental Medicine Funders Group (EMFG), which draws together the interests and strengths of key partners to ensure that the UK maintains an attractive international profile in the area.

Funding opportunities at the MRC

There are opportunities provided by our research boards for investigator-led applications for support across the spectrum of biomedical research. The main funding schemes that are assessed through the Board route include research grantsprogramme grants, New Investigator Research Grants

For specific note however are the following schemes:

Developmental pathway funding scheme

The MRC has developed a new managed mode scheme specifically for applicants wishing to undertake early clinical research in the development of an intervention.

MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement

If your application is in collaboration with industry you may need to complete the additional MICA form with your application.

Translational stem cell research programme

The Translational Stem Cell Research Committee (TSCRC) has been established to fund investigator-led research proposals that have clear translational goals, and will consider applications from across the UK.

Training and capacity building

In response to a critical skills gap within the UK, we ran a £3.7 million call for two flagship fellowship training programmes in clinical pharmacology and pathology.

Industrial CASE studentships

We are committed to developing and sustaining a close and productive alignment with industry in the UK, and fund a number of Industry CASE PhD studentships.

Explore our entire range of funding opportunities.

MRC resources for experimental medicine

We have invested in key centres and resources which provide the multidisciplinary expertise and skills to underpin experimental medicine research. Notable examples include: