Artist impression of blood cells

Blood and transplant research awarded £20m funding

A partnership between the NIHR and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has announced a new funding competition to award £19.9m to a new NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Units (BTRUs).

Currently, NIHR funds four NIHR BTRUs, which are centres of multidisciplinary research excellence in human translational medicine related to blood and organ transplantation.

These units, which are partnerships between universities and NHSBT, undertake research to improve the supply of blood, blood products, stem cells, tissues and organs for transplantation.

The existing BTRUs have developed many scientific advances and benefits to patients, for example developing a new approach to protect donated livers for transplantation, which can allow it to be used for patients with liver disease.

They also helped pioneer a technique to produce red blood cells in the lab.

This new funding competition seeks to fund new BTRUs which can focus on a number of key priority areas, including:

  • Blood donation
  • Organ donation and transplantation
  • Therapeutics
  • Data-driven transfusion practice
  • Transfusion and transplantation transmitted infections

The awarded sum will allow for five BTRUs to be funded for a five-year period, one in each of the identified priority areas.

Dr Louise Wood CBE, Director of Science, Research and Evidence at the Department of Health and Social Care and Co-Lead for the NIHR, said: “Since 2014 NIHR’s investment in blood and organ transplantation research has translated new findings into benefits for people who are donating, or receiving, blood or organs. Through this new funding competition, we will continue to support an environment where world-class research on blood and organ transplantation can thrive.”

Dr Gail Miflin, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Clinical Services at NHS BT, added: "I am delighted that the NIHR continues to recognise the importance of blood and transplantation research. The competition being launched today by the NIHR will lead to the funding of ambitious research projects that will inform future clinical practice for services that we provide to the NHS and beyond."

More can be found out about the funding competition here.

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