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New funding for King's BRCs

The Department of Health announced today (18th August 2011) that it will pledge over £53.3m in funding over the next five years to the Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) for Mental Health and the new Biomedical Research Unit for Dementia (BRU-D) at King’s College London, representing the biggest percentage uplift in funding awarded to any National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Centre. The Government has also pledged over £58m over the next five years to the BRC at King’s and Guy’s and St Thomas’.

The burden of mental ill-health to individuals, families and societies, is reflected in the estimated £77 billion annual cost of mental disorders in the UK.* The investment will allow research and development of ground-breaking treatments and care for mental health and dementia, as well as benefiting patients suffering from such mental disorders. 

Created in 2005, the BRCs aim to support researchers carrying out health and social care research, and provide patients with better access to ground breaking medicines and treatments. With a strong focus on translational research – taking advances in medical research out of the laboratory and into the clinic – the BRCs are external recognition of King’s unparalleled translational research portfolio.

Awarded over £48.8m over five years, the BRC for Mental Health at the IOP and SLaM brings together scientists, clinicians, mental health professionals, service users and carers, to improve clinical care and services across 10 mental health research themes. 

Recent successes from the BRC for Mental Health include: a brain scan which diagnoses adult autism; a novel blood test associated to early pathology in Alzheimer’s disease; and an advanced computer programme to detect the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease from a routine clinical brain scan.

The NIHR has identified dementia as a high disease burden and priority clinical need that is currently underrepresented.  Based on King’s translational research strength in dementia, the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s has also been awarded £4.5m over five years for a new Biomedical Research Unit focusing on dementia research, in partnership with SLaM and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

King’s is also home to the NIHR Research Centre for Patient Safety and Service Quality, based at King’s College Hospital. Renewal of funding for this type of research centre is expected to be announced at a later date. 

Announcing the award, Prime Minister, David Cameron said: ‘This unprecedented investment into the development of innovative medicines and treatments will have a huge impact on the care and services patients receive and help develop the modern, world-class health service patients deserve.

‘A strong competitive science and research base is a crucial part of securing sustainable economic growth and creating jobs of the future, and we have some of the best scientists and facilities in the world. This investment will help ensure we continue to be at the cutting edge.’

Principal of King’s College London, Professor Sir Rick Trainor, commented: ‘I am delighted that we will receive renewed funding for our Biomedical Research Centres, as well as investment in a new Biomedical Research Unit for Dementia.  

‘Ground-breaking research at King’s College London is contributing significantly to cutting edge advances in medical science. King’s is committed to driving programmes of research forward to bring scientific discoveries out of the laboratory and into the clinic to benefit patients at the earliest opportunity.’ 

Professor Simon Lovestone, Director of the NIHR BRC for Mental Health and the new BRU-D said: ‘We are tremendously grateful for this NIHR funding award. This is a fantastic endorsement of the real advances science can now offer in understanding, diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. The award will enable us to apply this knowledge more swiftly to the needs of our populations. 

‘Here, at the NIHR BRC for Mental Health we have, for example, delivered faster more reliable testing in Alzheimer’s and Autism and new insights into the effects of serious mental illness on life expectancy. 

‘We’ve been able to deliver this using advances in ‘informatics’: innovative computing that allows us to weave a fuller picture of the interplay between brain structure, genes, proteins and life-style factors to gain insight into the early symptoms and causes of a range of disorders.

‘Coupled with state-of-the-art scanning and patient population information, this offers real hope of a new generation of medications and tools for diagnosis, some already in development. Glimpsing into the future, we are about to see a real step-change in the understanding and treatment of mental illness. We have already developed new interventions, in psychotherapy for example, and are looking forward to delivering many more medications and therapies to directly benefit patients, including personalised treatments tailored to individuals.

‘Our BRC and new BRU for Dementia, are jointly built on the expertise of researchers, health professionals and patients at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.
‘As part of King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre we are working with colleagues in King's College Hospital and Guys and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trusts to bring our innovations and developments to the benefit of patients across physical and mental health.’

*Estimated £77 billion per annum cost of mental disorders in the UK alone (Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (2003)

For further information about the three current BRCs at King’s, visit

King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2010 QS international world rankings), The Sunday Times 'University of the Year 2010/11' and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has nearly 23,500 students (of whom more than 9,000 are graduate students) from nearly 140 countries, and some 6,000 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.

King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million. 

King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine, nursing and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres. 

King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit:

About the NIHR
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility. The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training. Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world-class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading-edge research focused on the needs of patients.

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