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What is the Medical Research Foundation?

Did you know that the MRC has an independent charity? While we are funded by taxpayers via Government, the Medical Research Foundation (MRF) is funded directly by charitable giving. Here Director Dr Angela Hind tells us about the MRF and its aims to fund early-career researchers at crucial points in their scientific lives.

The Medical Research Foundation is all about people: the people who choose to donate money, the people being helped by the medical research we fund, and the people whose careers we enhance by providing funds when they most need it.

A major part of our strategy is to fund the next generation of research leaders to tackle today’s research questions, improving human health and developing the careers of the most talented at the same time.

You might not have heard of us, but the public have been making charitable donations to support the MRC for more than 80 years, and these funds have been quietly complementing and supplementing the work of the MRC.

But times are changing at the MRF. We are a unique charity ― not focused on one disease or institution ― and we are proud of what we do to enhance the national investment in quality research for human health. We are able to add around £3.5m to research each year.

And we think it’s time to shout about it.

We’ve just launched a new website to showcase our awards and let people know about how we spend the legacies so generously left to us for medical research. We’ve funded some really innovative and much-needed initiatives recently:

  • £2m for a national interdisciplinary research training programme for the next generation of academic psychiatrists so that they are sufficiently familiar with the latest research techniques to develop new treatments and preventative strategies for mental illness (the MRC added another £200,000).
  • £2m for research equipment for some of the research leaders of the future, to take their research and career to the next level or to develop innovative new technologies.
  • £2m to support a national cohort of 10,000 patients with hepatitis C virus run by a wide consortium of UK researchers. This is expected to stimulate greater clinical and fundamental research into hepatitis C infection in the UK.
  • £1m for scholarship’s in the MRC’s Gambia Unit for young West Africans to study for undergraduate and Master’s degrees at top UK (and other) universities, with guaranteed employment opportunities and further training at the MRC Gambia Unit.
  • £900,000 for research on the viruses that cause chicken pox and shingles (and associated pain and rare complications like encephalitis) led by young researchers making the transition to research leadership.

Of course, providing opportunities like these costs money and we are looking to increase the funds that we raise from the public so that we can do more to develop individuals and tackle health issues through research.

We are not going to be shaking collection tins on high streets, but we are looking for individuals who understand the value of medical research (both at the bench and in the clinic), to consider remembering the Medical Research Foundation in their wills or to raise funds for us now. What better legacy than to support opportunities for others to have an exciting career in research and to contribute towards the understanding of health and disease?

Please read more about us and consider supporting us. However large or small your support, it will make a difference.

Angela Hind

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