Major Wellcome Trust award to take science from the bench to the bedside

November 30, 2006

Clinicians and scientists studying how a variety of human diseases arise have received a major boost today. The Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, University of Cambridge, where researchers look at the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms behind disease, has been awarded one of the prestigious Wellcome Trust Strategic Awards. The £4 million grant will enable the CIMR to stay at the leading edge of research into how diseases arise and to play a key role training tomorrow's academic doctors and medical scientists.

The Institute is a multidisciplinary research centre whose outstanding feature is the interweaving of clinical medicine with molecular and cell biology. Since it opened in 1998, it has led key research into how viruses evade our immune system, genetic susceptibility to diabetes and progress towards novel treatments for Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease.

"What we are striving to provide in CIMR is an effective interface between basic and clinical science to underpin our goal of determining and understanding the molecular mechanisms of disease," says Professor Paul Luzio, Director of CIMR. "With the support of the Wellcome Trust we have attracted outstanding basic and clinical scientists to the Institute. The Strategic Award will underpin our scientific infrastructure, help us bring scientifically trained clinicians back into research after their specialist clinical training.

"Our Institute is not disease-specific but our focus over the next few years will provide insights into the molecular pathology of many diseases and help to identify novel therapeutic targets. CIMR will continue to be a great place to work for those whose primary interests are focused on disease and for some who are more interested in basic cellular mechanisms which, when they malfunction, result in disease. "

As well as facilitating collaboration between clinicians and basic scientists, the Institute also aims to play a key role in training tomorrow's academic doctors and medical scientists. The strategic award will allow CIMR to run "Next Generation Fellowships", intended to attract clinicians into research at the conclusion of their clinical training. It will also establish a four-year PhD programme to provide basic scientists with an opportunity to undertake PhD training and explore interdisciplinary research opportunities.

"Training clinicians to undertake basic biomedical science is fundamentally important for the future of biomedicine in the UK," says Dr Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust. "Building strong collaborative teams of clinicians and basic scientists, as CIMR does, is therefore essential."
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Research at CIMR aims to understand a variety of human illnesses at a molecular and cellular level. To do this, research teams look at how our genes are constructed and operate, how molecules move around and function in cells, how proteins interact physically and how our bodies defend us against infection.

Wellcome Trust

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