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Integrated human disease research projects awarded £7 million

The MRC has awarded £7 million towards 7 new collaborative research projects which aim to gain a greater understanding of human diseases, including one based at UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology: Multiscale modelling of progression in Parkinson’s disease.

  • £7 million awarded to multiscale human research projects in the UK over three years
  • Projects aim to gain a greater understanding of complex human diseases by bringing together different research areas
  • From cancer to neurodegeneration researchers will combine innovative techniques that link across biological scales

The complexities of human physiology mean that there are many components working within the body, across different scales (from molecules and cells through to tissues, organisms and our environment). These research projects will use a collaborative approach which combines innovative techniques and technologies in new ways to link across these biological scales.

From cancer and neurodegeneration, to kidney disease and diabetes, the funding has been awarded to various institutes across the UK who will lead innovative research collaborations which connect two or more teams with expertise in different and complementary research techniques and/or spatial scales.

Institutes include the University of Birmingham, University of Leeds, University College London, The Francis Crick Institute, Imperial College London, University of Cambridge and Cardiff University.

Professor John Iredale, MRC Executive Chair said: “The awards are the result of the MRC’s competitive multimodal research funding call which was narrowed down to 7 diverse projects that span across the MRC’s research funding remit “The MRC is dedicated to funding research which addresses some of the biggest problems in health. These multimodal projects provide an opportunity for novel research that pushes the boundaries of current understanding of human disease.”

Multiscale modelling of progression in Parkinson’s disease is led by Professor Sonia Gandhi, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology and The Francis Crick Institute, Professor Karl Friston and Dr Christian Lambert (Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology).

Parkinson’s disease is an incurable neurodegenerative condition affecting over ten million people worldwide. It is highly variable in presentation and progression but the reasons for this remain unknown. To bridge this gap, we will map the mechanisms of disease progression across multiple biological scales, from cells to circuits, in the same individuals. Deep clinical phenotyping and imaging, and molecular profiling and cellular modelling, will produce detailed brain architecture and cellular maps of progression, symptoms and phenotype. Mathematical modelling within and across scales will provide insights into the basis of progression in chronic neurodegenerative diseases. Through this, will provide an accessible framework with applications in many other human diseases, that will help deliver more individual-specific treatments to slow or prevent disease progression.