New NIHR and MRC funding for UK rare disease research

UK consortium to tackle monkeypox outbreak

UK efforts to tackle the monkeypox outbreak have been supported by a two million pound investment to fund new research.

A research consortium is to be created bringing together 25 researchers and scientists from 12 institution across the UK to work closely with government agencies such as the Animal and Plant Health Agency, UK Health Security Agency, and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. They will collaborate on developing better diagnostic tests, identifying potential therapies and studying the effectiveness of vaccines against virus spread.

The funding comes from the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), both part of UK Research and Innovation. The research consortium will be led by The Pirbright Institute and the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research.

The key areas the research will focus on developing new tests and identifying potential control areas, studying the virus and learning from the vaccine roll out.

The Consortium members include researchers and scientists from:

  • Animal and Plant Health Agency
  • Dstl 
  • Gadx
  • Guy’s and St. Thomas NHS Foundation Trust
  • Imperial College London
  • MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research
  • The Pirbright Institute 
  • UK Health Security Agency 
  • University of Birmingham 
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Surrey

Professor Massimo Palmarini, co-lead from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, explained: “Monkeypox is a public health challenge, so taking decisive, collective action to better understand this virus is paramount. By bringing together research expertise in different areas, we will harness the UK’s world-leading knowledge to learn more about how the virus works and spreads and provide the foundations for the development of potential new treatments.”

Professor Melanie Welham, Executive Chair of BBSRC, added: “One of the real strengths of the UK’s scientific response to disease outbreaks is the way that we can draw on leading researchers from all over the country, who can pool their expertise to deliver results, fast. Long-term support for animal and human virus research has ensured we have the capability to respond with agility.

“This new national consortium will study the unprecedented monkeypox outbreak to better understand how to tackle it. This will feed rapidly into global public health strategies, developing new diagnostic tests and identifying potential therapies.”