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Medical Research Council (United Kingdom)

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Title: Medical Research Council (United Kingdom)  
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Subject: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, John Savill, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, David Plastow
Collection: 1913 Establishments in the United Kingdom, British Medical Research, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Government Agencies Established in 1913, Medical Education in the United Kingdom, Medical Research, Medical Research Council, Non-Departmental Public Bodies of the United Kingdom Government, Organisations Based in the City of Westminster, Research Councils, Science and Technology in the United Kingdom
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Medical Research Council (United Kingdom)

Medical Research Council
Abbreviation MRC
Formation 1913
Type Non-Departmental Government Body
Purpose Co-ordinating and funding medical research in the United Kingdom
  • Medical Research Council
    2nd Floor David Phillips Building
    Polaris House
    North Star Avenue Swindon
    Wiltshire SN2 1FL
Region served United Kingdom
Chief Executive Sir John Savill
Chairman Sir John Chisholm
Main organ MRC Council
Parent organization Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Research Councils UK
Budget c. £350 million

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.


  • History 1
    • Notable research 1.1
  • Organisation and leadership 2
    • Chief Executive Officers 2.1
    • Chairmen 2.2
  • Institutes, centres and units 3
  • Notes and references 4
  • External links 5
    • Video clips 5.1


The MRC was founded as the Medical Research Committee and Advisory Council in 1913,[1] with its prime role being the distribution of medical research funds under the terms of the National Insurance Act 1911. This was a consequence of the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Tuberculosis, which recommended the creation of a permanent medical research body. The mandate was not limited to tuberculosis, however.

In 1920, it became the Medical Research Council under Royal Charter. A supplementary Charter was formally approved by the Queen on 17 July 2003.

In August 2012, the creation of the MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, a research centre for personalised medicine, was announced.[2][3] The MRC-NIHR National Phenome Centre is based at Imperial College London and is a combination of inherited equipment from the anti-doping facilities used to test samples during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.[2][3] and additional items from the Centre's technology partners Bruker and Waters Corporation. The Centre, led by Imperial College London and King's College London, is funded with two five-year grants of £5 million from the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research [2][3] and was officially opened in June 2013.[4]

Notable research

Important work carried out under MRC auspices has included:

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

Organisation and leadership

The MRC is one of seven Research Councils and since 6 June 2009 has been answerable to, although politically independent from, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.[18] In the past, the MRC has been answerable to the Office of Science and Innovation, part of the Department of Trade and Industry.

The MRC is governed by a council of 14 members, which convenes every two months. Its Council, which directs and oversees corporate policy and science strategy, ensures that the MRC is effectively managed, and makes policy and spending decisions. Council members are drawn from industry, academia, government and the NHS. Members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. Daily management is in the hands of the Chief Executive. Members of the council also chair specialist boards on specific areas of research. For specific subjects, the council convenes committees.[19]

Chief Executive Officers

As Chief Executive Officers (originally secretaries) served:

MRC CEOs are normally automatically knighted.[20]


Institutes, centres and units

The MRC has 27 units and three institutes in the UK and one unit in each of The Gambia and Uganda.[21] It also has 26 centres offering partnerships with UK universities to develop centres of scientific excellence.[21] Three MRC-funded 'lifelong health' research centres were announced in 2008 as part of the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programme - the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.[21]

The following is a list of the MRC's current institutes, centres and units:[21]



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


  • MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit





  • 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)


  • MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS


  • MRC (UK) The Gambia


  • 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)


  • MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit
  • Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH)




  • 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)




  • 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



  • MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Records created or inherited by the Medical Research Council". The National Archives. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "London 2012 legacy to include medical research centre". Times Higher Education. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "Legacy for anti-doping centre". BBC News. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "New centre will decipher roles of nature and nurture in human health". Imperial College News and Events. Imperial College London. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography: Mellanby, Edward". Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  6. ^ "Social History of Medicine - Uses of a Pandemic: Forging the Identities of Influenza and Virus Research in Interwar Britain". Oxford University Press. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Bud, Robert (2007). Penicillin Triumph and Tragedy. Oxford University Press.  
  8. ^ Doll, R.; Peto, R.; Boreham, J.; Sutherland, I. (2005). "Mortality from cancer in relation to smoking: 50 years observations on British doctors". British Journal of Cancer 92 (3): 426–429.  
  9. ^ Torsten, Krude; Klug, Aaron (2004). Changing Science and Society. Cambridge University Press. pp. 3–26.  
  10. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2003". Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "Therapeutic Antibodies and the LMB". MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  12. ^ Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (1991). "Use of folic acid for prevention of spina bifida and other neural tube defects--1983-1991". MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report 40 (30): 513–516.  
  13. ^ Collins, R.; Armitage, J.; Parish, S.; Sleigh, P.; Peto, R.; Heart Protection Study Collaborative Group (2003). "MRC/BHF Heart Protection Study of cholesterol-lowering with simvastatin in 5963 people with diabetes: A randomised placebo-controlled trial". Lancet 361 (9374): 2005–2016.  
  14. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009". Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  15. ^ Loos, R. J. F. (2009). "Recent progress in the genetics of common obesity". British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 68 (6): 811–829.  
  16. ^ "Press release: Doctors more than halve local relapse of rectal cancer". 6 March 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "Nobel Prize Winners". Medical Research Council. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "RCUK: Medical Research Council". Research Councils UK. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "MRC Council". Medical Research Council. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  20. ^ "Angelina Jolie made dame in thousand-strong Queen's birthday honours list". The Guardian. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c d "Units, centres and institutes". Medical Research Council. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  22. ^ "Press release: £250 million commitment to UKCMRI". MRC National Institute for Medical Research. 26 March 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 

External links

  • MRC official website
  • Research Councils UK
  • Human Genetic Unit
  • Annual Reviews
  • Social & Public Health Sciences Unit
  • NIMR official website
  • MRC-NIHR National Phenome Centre website

Video clips

  • MRC YouTube channel
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