Dundee Uni cancer research receives funding boost

RESEARCH into diseases such as cancer and Parkinson’s has received a £24 million boost from the Medical Research Council.

The research is being carried out at Dundee University. Picture: PA

The council’s Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU) at the University of Dundee has been awarded the funding for work to advance understanding and treatment of diseases, which also include immune disorders and hypertension, for the next five years.

It will allow the unit to increase staff numbers by around 20 researchers in addition to the 162 existing roles.

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The unit will also be able to expand its work into ubiquitylation, which has become an important area of research for many diseases. It is a process which regulates almost all aspects of cell life and irregularities in this process are a cause of cancer as well as chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Professor Dario Alessi, director of the MRC-PPU, said: “At these financially challenging times this is incredibly generous support from the MRC. It is a strong endorsement of our research that aims to improve our understanding of human diseases.

“Our researchers thrive on their collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry. Our ability to expand into the ubiquitylation research areas and to recruit additional researchers will greatly boost our links with the pharmaceutical industry.

“I hope that this will enable us to make a significant contribution towards aiding these companies develop new therapies for the treatment of diseases in the future.

“We will also use this new funding to ensure that we provide all of our staff with an extraordinary research and training experience. Funding will also support training of clinician scientists and increase our engagement with the clinical community to enhance translational opportunities for the ultimate benefit of patients.”

The money will also be used to facilitate the merger of the MRC-PPU with the Scottish Institute of Cell Signalling (SCILLS) which began in March this year. SCILLS was formed in 2008 with the support of the Scottish Government which provided £10 million from 2008 to 2013.

Sir John Savill, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said: “It’s important for people to know how crucial their own money has been in uncovering health improvements that have saved millions of lives.”

The funding announcement has been made in the same week that the MRC celebrates its 100th year. It was founded in 1913 to explore treatment for tuberculosis and since then has helped invent the MRI scanner and DNA fingerprinting as well as prove the link between smoking and cancer.