The Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) have announced a new joint arrangement for clinical trials. The initiative forms a key part of the developing MRC-NIHR joint strategy for translational research.

As part of the strategy, a new clinical research programme called the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme will be launched on 1 April 2008. The EME will be funded by the MRC, and administered by the NIHR as the lead organisation. The programme aims to support excellent clinical science with an ultimate view to improving health or patient care. Its remit includes clinical trials and evaluative studies which add significantly to our understanding of biological or behavioural mechanisms and processes, explore new scientific or clinical principles, evaluate clinical efficacy of interventions where proof of concept in humans has already been achieved and the development or testing of new methodologies.

The new strategy will see the EME programme working with the already established NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme, to ensure that promising technologies are carried from the efficacy and safety stage through to being assessed for clinical and cost-effectiveness to the NHS. The HTA programme will continue to produce research information about the effectiveness, costs, and broader impact of health technologies for those who use, manage and provide care in the NHS.

The EME Programme will mainly work in responsive mode, taking applications from the research community and assessing them at regular intervals, although it may also fund proactively in particular areas of importance. Details of how to apply for funding will be available from January 2008.

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chief Executive of the MRC said the new arrangements would help maintain the UK's place in leading how research is funded and carried out: "More than sixty years ago the MRC developed a design for clinical trials that is recognised today as the gold standard - the randomised controlled trial. The MRC is delighted to be working with NIHR to provide new opportunities for late phase clinical trials. The partnership will enable us to take promising research and turn it into effective therapies more quickly and more efficiently. We will continue to play a major role in defining direction and strategy in clinical trials."

"This is an exciting collaboration between the MRC and NIHR in managing clinical research in the UK, and in bridging the gaps in translation of research into clinical benefit identified in the Cooksey Review," says Professor Sally Davies, Director General of Research and Development at the Department of Health, on behalf of the NIHR. "It allows new and existing research programmes to work more closely together to ensure that the excellent biomedical research conducted in the UK is translated into excellent clinical research and real benefits for patients. Recent developments in the infrastructure for clinical research in the UK will facilitate rapid recruitment to trials."
Details of other components of the MRC-NIHR joint strategy for health research covering discovery and exploratory development, methodology and human capital will be announced separately.

The MRC and NIHR joint arrangement has been developed with the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research.


Notes to editors:  
1. Research proposals for the new funding stream will be sought from January. This press release is intended to provide the research community with advance notice of the funding opportunity. To keep up to date with the latest developments, visit 2. The Cooksey Review of health research funding, published in December 2006, set out recommendations to ensure that publicly funded health research is carried out in the most effective way. A key recommendation was the establishment of an Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR) to help coordinate the efforts of both the National Institute for Health Research and the Medical Research Council. This includes a greater emphasis on translating research into patient benefit whilst maintaining a healthy science base.
3. OSCHR has now been established as a Government office jointly by the Department of Heath (DH) and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). OSCHR is headed by a non-executive Chair who is appointed by, and reports to, the Secretaries of State for Health and for Innovation, Universities and Skills.  Professor John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, has been appointed as the first Chair of OSCHR.
4. OSCHR's mission is to facilitate more efficient translation of health research into health and economic benefits in the UK through better coordination of health research and more coherent funding arrangements to support translation. The key functions of OSCHR are to:
* work with officials from DH, DIUS and the Devolved Administrations to set the Government's health research strategy, taking into account the advice, priorities and needs set out by NIHR and its equivalents in the Devolved Countries, MRC and the NHS;
* Set the budget required to deliver this strategy and submit a single Spending Review bid to the Treasury;
* Communicate the UK's health priorities to the pharmaceutical and bioscience sectors, including designating public and private sector projects addressing hitherto unmet health needs as 'UK Priority Projects';
* Monitor delivery of the strategy against objectives and report to Parliament on progress; and
* Encourage a stronger partnership between Government, health industries and charities. The OSCHR Board is currently focusing on three main areas of activity - translational medicine, public health and e-health. More details on joint strategy development activities under the aegis of OSCHR can be found on the MRC and NIHR websites.
5. A single strategy for translational medicine research is being developed by MRC and NIHR under the oversight of a Translational Medicine Board (TMB) jointly convened by the two funding bodies as part of the OSCHR process.
6. The Medical Research Council funds excellent science with the aim of improving human health. Its work ranges from science at the molecular level to public health research carried out in universities, hospitals and a network of units and institutes. The MRC works closely with the Health Departments, the National Health Service and industry to take account of the public's needs. The results have led to some of the most significant discoveries in medical science and benefited millions of people in the UK and around the world.
7. 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. 8. The HTA programme is the largest of the NIHR programmes and publishes the results of its research in the Health Technology Assessment journal, with almost 400 issues published to date. The journal's 2006 Impact Factor (5.29) ranked it in the top 10% of medical and health-related journals. All issues are available for download free of charge from the website, The HTA programme is coordinated by the National Coordinating Centre for Health Technology Assessment (NCCHTA), based at the University of Southampton.

Further information:
Jon Cole, Senior Programme Manager (Communications), NCCHTA Tel. 02380 595642, email

Ruth Allen, Programme Manager (Communications), NCCHTA Tel. 02380 595584, email

MRC press office 020 7637 6011

Healthcare Republic does not have an editorial influence or input in to these press releases. The views expressed within these documents are not endorsed by Healthcare Republic or Haymarket Medical Publications Limited.

Enquiries should be directed to any contacts listed within the press releases.


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