Wellcome awards Cambridge £18 million for two Discovery Research Platforms


Cambridge has been awarded two of Wellcome’s eight new Discovery Research Platforms, the global charitable foundation announced today.

Acinar tissue - The flowers of diabetes Credit: Odra Noel
Acinar tissue - The flowers of diabetes Credit: Odra Noel
The Discovery Research Platforms (DRPs) will be home to transformative research environments that empower researchers to overcome specific barriers holding back progress in their fields of research. They aim to accelerate research for the benefit of the wider global research community, with researchers and teams developing new tools, knowledge and capabilities to help unlock new findings about life, health and wellbeing.

Michael Dunn, Director of Discovery Research at Wellcome, said: -Discovery research is essential to advancing our ability to understand and improve health. But in addition to researchers- bold and imaginative ideas, we know that new tools, methods and capabilities are also needed to unlock new avenues of research that can disrupt and transform the research landscape globally.-

The two Cambridge DRPs, which will receive £9million each over seven years, are:

The Discovery Research Platform for Tissue Scale Biology - which seeks to move stem cell biology to the tissue and organ scale of research, creating a new network of local and international researchers to enable strategies that capitalise on new in vitro models to develop better treatments for human patients.

Professor Bertie Gottgens, Director of the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, said: "I am delighted that Wellcome will support our ambition to build a new Discovery Research Platform to provide international leadership for Tissue Scale Biology.

-Our vision for this platform resulted from extensive discussions across the wider Cambridge Stem Cell community and the formation of a highly interdisciplinary team connecting the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute with the West Cambridge Engineering/Technology community. It also incorporates exciting new training partnerships with Anglia Ruskin University and the Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology, to help us fill critical skills shortages and widen participation across Cambridge."

The Discovery Research Platform for Integrating Metabolic and Endocrine Science - which aims to address practical barriers preventing data integration across metabolic and endocrine science, investigate how hormones control metabolic processes and how these can go wrong in disorders such as obesity, diabetes and cachexia, and create tools to facilitate global access to this data. The Platform will encompass research on molecules, cells and model organisms but will have a major focus on discovery science in human participants, patients and populations.

The funding will sustain key technological platforms and the highly-trained staff needed to support these. It will also underpin partnerships with research centres across the UK as well as in Germany and Denmark, all of which will provide new opportunities for training.

The Platform will have a major focus on the broad dissemination of integrated data and the creation of tools to facilitate access by the global community. The award will also accelerate the team’s drive to make transformational changes to research culture with new initiatives in widening access and open science reinforced by a new programme of research into the culture of biomedical science, in collaboration with the Cambridge Judge Business School.

Professor Sir Stephen O-Rahilly, Co-Director at the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science and Director of the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit, said: -Wellcome’s support of our scientists- research in metabolism and endocrinology, and of the technological platforms that underpin it, has been critically important to the discoveries we have made and the translation of that research into improvements in health. This new award will allow us to build on those achievements and deliver more ground-breaking science in a manner that emphasises openness, diversity and a spirit of collaboration.