28 August 2012

Funding Boost Will Help Patients Reap Benefits of Genetic Revolution

People suffering from illnesses such as cancer and osteoarthritis as well as rare inherited disorders will benefit from a major investment in medical research, announced today.

Almost £60million of awards from the Medical Research Council (MRC) will help scientists gain fresh insights into conditions such as schizophrenia, cystic fibrosis and genetic eye disorders including retinitis pigmentosa, coloboma and anophthalmia.

The awards to the MRC Human Genetics Unit and the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) at the University of Edinburgh will also help doctors develop and deliver new tests and therapies for patients.

The IGMM became one of the largest centres for human genetics research and molecular medicine in Europe when the MRC Human Genetics Unit joined the University. The funding – paid over the next five years – consolidates its position as a world leader in genetics research.

Director of the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine and the MRC Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh, Professor Nick Hastie said:

“The challenge we face is to work out how human genes work together to build a human.

“We also want to find out how subtle DNA differences help shape human diversity and influence susceptibility to a wide range of common diseases. This funding will help us to turn the potential of the genetic revolution into reality.”

Dr Wendy Ewart, Deputy Chief Executive of the MRC, said:

“The Human Genetics Unit and IGMM are a shining example of the kind of partnership working needed to address the challenges of 21st century research. The MRC is proud to continue its support for these establishments and their drive to transform discoveries about the human genome into benefits for human health.”

The IGMM is a partnership between the Medical Research Council, the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Molecular Medicine and Cancer Research UK.