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NIHR to award £1.5m professorships

The National Institute of Health Research will award eight professorships for translational research in areas such as mental health, neurology and oncology.

The researchers will be awarded £1.5 million each to carry our translational research over five years.

The NIHR says the awards will enable early-career academics to do translational research at professorial level and “facilitate strong research leadership and develop research capacity in areas critical to accelerating the transfer of research ideas into improved health”.

Researchers include James Bainbridge at the University College London, Moorfields, who will develop treatments—including gene and cell therapies—for blinding retinal diseases. Louise Robinson at Newcastle University will do work to improve the health and wellbeing of older people.

“The professors will be given the opportunity to develop their research programmes, but most importantly they won’t stop treating NHS patients. This will help make sure that new ideas make the leap from the bench to the bedside,” said health minister Anne Milton in a statement.

“We want to see medical research advance, and to do that it is essential that we nurture the very best researchers to the benefit of NHS patients,” she said.

Sally Davies, chief medical officer and chief scientific advisor at the Department of Health, said the original plan was to appoint five professors but that the “international expert panel found the quality of applications so high that they advised eight awards should be made”.