Research receives £8 million funding boost

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has awarded £4 million to support world-class cardiovascular research at The University of Manchester over the next five years, the charity has announced today.

The University of Manchester has pledged to match the funding awarded by the BHF, taking the total investment in cardiovascular disease research at the University to £8 million.

Researchers at the University welcomed the announcement. ofessor Bernard Keavney, BHF Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Manchester, said: "This is a landmark moment for cardiovascular research in Greater Manchester. We’re thrilled that the progress we have made in our research at The University of Manchester in recent years has been recognised with this award, alongside other top-ranking institutions nationally.

"We will focus particularly on science that will meet the needs of those who suffer disproportionately from cardiovascular disease because they are disadvantaged - be that by socio-economic status, race or ethnicity, geography or genetics. We are determined that this award will lead to positive health changes for our local population in the North West - who suffer the worst rates of cardiovascular illness and death in England - as well as nationally and internationally."

Prof Keavney , will lead the Centre of Excellence at the University, along with Professor Maciej Tomaszewski from the University of Manchester.

The funding will support the university to cultivate a world-class research environment that encourages collaboration, inclusion and innovation, and where visionary scientists can drive lifesaving breakthroughs.

The award from the BHF is part of a much needed £35 million boost to UK cardiovascular disease research from the British Heart Foundation. The funding comes from the charity’s highly competitive Research Excellence Awards funding scheme. The award to the University of Manchester will support researchers to:
  • Discover the reasons why some babies are born with heart problems (congenital heart disease) and find ways in which these problems could be better predicted, potentially avoided, and treated when they occur in families.
  • Better understand the genetic drivers of high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions.
  • Provide new insights into the causes and consequences of heart failure and identify new potential treatment strategies.
  • Uncover the links between inflammation and inflammatory diseases (such as certain types of arthritis) and the higher risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke these patients carry and find ways to break these links.
  • Use Artificial Intelligence on largescale datasets to identify how we can better identify and prevent disease in patients with cardiovascular diseases, including those suffering from other conditions such as cancer.
This is a landmark moment for cardiovascular research in Greater Manchester. We’re thrilled that the progress we have made in our research at The University of Manchester in recent years has been recognised with this award, alongside other top-ranking institutions nationally

Professor Bryan Williams, Chief Scientific and Medical Officer at the British Heart Foundation, said: "We’re delighted to continue to support research at the University of Manchester addressing the biggest challenges in cardiovascular disease. This funding recognises the incredible research already happening at the university and will help to cement its status as a global leader in the field.

"With generous donations from our supporters, this funding will attract the brightest talent, power cutting-edge science, and unlock lifesaving discoveries that can turn the tide on the devastation caused by heart and circulatory diseases."

Research Excellence Awards offer researchers greater flexibility than traditional research funding, allowing scientists to quickly launch ambitious projects that can act as a springboard for larger, transformative funding applications.

The funding also aims to break down the silos that have traditionally existed in research, encouraging collaboration between experts from diverse fields. From clinicians to data scientists, biologists to engineers, the funding will support universities to attract the brightest minds, nurture new talent and foster collaboration to answer the biggest questions in heart and circulatory disease research.

The University of Manchester received a £1 million Accelerator Award from the BHF in 2019 to enable the university to develop its cardiovascular research programme. This funding has supported research that will lay the foundations for future breakthroughs, including:

    Development of a biodegradable gel that could help to repair damaged hearts. Researchers showed that the gel can be safely injected into the beating heart to act as a scaffold for cells to grow into new heart tissue. They hope that it could form a new generation of treatments to repair damage caused by a heart attack.

  • Identifying how high blood pressure causes the small arteries in the brain to become constricted, reducing the blood flow through them and increasing the risk of developing vascular dementia. The mechanism could be the target of new drugs to prevent vascular dementia.
  • Providing new biological insights into high blood pressure by studying the genes that influence differences in blood pressure in the kidney, the key organ controlling blood pressure. This work identified opportunities to repurpose drugs currently used for other conditions to better treat high blood pressure.

Its recent successful funding bid will now support the university to take the next steps towards internationally recognised excellence in cardiovascular disease research.