Strategy of MRC

The mission of the MRC is to improve human health through world-class medical research, from fundamental science to early clinical trials and preventive medicine. For the good of society, we find better ways to treat and prevent disease and to advance the health of people worldwide.

The MRC works in partnership across UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and devolved administrations, the NHS, charities and industry. We are a dynamic organisation that is continually evolving and embracing new opportunities to achieve a mission that has remained the same for more than a century.

Four foundations are central to addressing our vision:

  • Discovery science: Investing in the best research to push the frontiers of knowledge, for example addressing biological complexity in real life and at different scales. Our research is investigator-led and inspired by clear health problems, knowledge gaps or opportunities for interventions.
  • Investing in people: Supporting outstanding researchers and strengthening diversity and mobility across sectors and disciplines; building capability, especially in clinical and quantitative research, and improving careers for team scientists and technology specialists.
  • New technologies and infrastructure: Ensuring access to cutting edge technologies, data and computing infrastructure, and expert support; ensuring funds are available for renewal of day-to-day equipment.
  • Fostering collaboration: Refreshing our models of support for MRC centres and consortia to support new research challenges, and creating platforms for sharing expertise and equipment.

We give particular emphasis to developing research and partnerships in our health focus themes:

  • Prevention and early detection: Fostering a whole systems approach, including ‘upstream’ environmental and social causes of ill health and close engagement with users to shift healthcare towards pre-empting disease in earlier stages. New insights from biological research into genetic risk and disease mechanisms, and new monitoring and diagnostic technologies, play an increasingly important role in targeting preventive work, and in enabling earlier diagnosis and action.
  • Precision medicine: Moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach, to better target interventions to an individual. We support clinical-industry-academic consortia and capitalise on the UK’s strengths in deep experimental investigations in well-described clinical groups.
  • Multimorbidities: Understanding patterns of disease clusters, common underpinning mechanisms such as ageing and inflammation, and the wider determinants of multimorbidities.
  • Advanced therapies: Harnessing our strong biological and clinical research to develop research in advanced cell and gene therapies, and to explore new materials, synthetic biomolecules and implantable neurotechnologies.
  • Mental health: Improving understanding of the biological, social, and environmental risk factors of mental ill health with an emphasis on childhood and adolescence to enable early interventions.
  • Antimicrobial resistance: Developing a ‘One Health’ approach, building further on the cross-UKRI AMR Funders Forum to establish robust predictive models of the AMR threat and opportunities for intervention.
  • Global health: Widening and diversifying the research base to address changing needs in low and middle income countries, and working in partnership to maximise impacts and develop sustainable and efficient research capacity.

To translate the outcomes of our work, we develop partnerships for health and economic impact:

  • working with health departments, the NHS and charities to ensure that the UK can achieve its full potential in using routine health data for research, narrow the gap between research and clinical practice, and enhance the use of research evidence in policy development
  • supporting a strong pipeline of academic translation and innovative public-private partnerships with pharmaceutical, diagnostics, digital and technology sectors to de-risk and accelerate interventions
  • influencing international research agendas and providing leadership in international partnerships to ensure UK scientists can engage with the best minds, ideas and resources to address global challenges and attract overseas funding.

MRC’s delivery plan forms part of a full set of delivery plans covering UKRI’s nine constituent councils, in addition to a plan covering cross-UKRI initiatives. Find out about UK Research and Innovation’s delivery plans.

Read about how we progressed against our commitments in the last strategic plan in Research changes lives 2009 to 2014.

Last updated: 22 April 2022

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