Our successes

Life-changing discoveries

Medical research delivers benefits across the whole spectrum of society, from its primary aim of improving human health to creating a skilled workforce, growing innovative businesses and generating inward investment for the UK. Here is a small selection of the Medical Research Council's successes, both recent and historic.
[The UK medical research funding graphic is based on 2013/14 figures. Other MRC in numbers figures are cumulative from 2006 to 2014.]


Increasing dementia diagnoses

Brain health

The latest progress report on the Prime Minister’s Challenge found that in 2015, 59 per cent of the estimated people with dementia had been diagnosed, compared to 42 per cent in 2010/11. Read more about increasing dementia diagnoses and neurodegenerative diseases: dementia.

Pioneering lung cancer treatment

Repair & replacement

A new combined cell-gene therapy to treat lung cancer will be tested in NHS patients this year. The treatment induces a self-destruct pathway in cancer, but not healthy cells. Read more about pioneering lung cancer treatment and regenerative medicine.

Targeting superbugs

Drug resistance

With the ever-growing threat of antimicrobial resistance, this alternative to antibiotics targets the hospital superbug Clostridium difficile. Read more about targeting superbugs and antimicrobial resistance.

Sharing compounds from industry

Working with industry

A collection of 68 deprioritised pharmaceutical compounds has been made available to academic researchers through a partnership between the MRC and seven global drug companies, the largest of its kind in the world. Read more about sharing compounds from industry and working with industry.

Discovery for medicine

22 million benefit from heart research

22 million patients benefited from research-based cardiovascular disease treatments between 1985-2005. Read more about research-based cardiovascular treatments.

Limiting brain damage in babies

The cooling of newborn babies suffering from a lack of oxygen at the time of birth significantly increases their chance of survival without brain damage to later childhood. Read more about limiting brain damage in babies.

Detecting cancers before they strike

Using the MRC-developed ‘cytosponge’ to detect cancer of the gullet costs around £25 and is done by nurses in a GP surgery, rather than an endoscopy which costs at least £400 and is carried out in hospital. Read more about the cytosponge.

Transforming health research

Take a PEEK

The Portable Eye Examination Kit (PEEK) uses ordinary Android smartphones to test for common eye problems. It costs one fiftieth of the price of the usual heavy, fragile equipment that has to be transported to remote villages, and it only needs one specialist to do the test rather than a whole team. Read more about PEEK.

Alcohol in pregnancy

Research by an MRC-funded PhD student at the University of Leeds on the link between light drinking by pregnant women and pre-term birth, led to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists changing its guidance on alcohol consumption. Read more about alcohol in pregnancy.

Preventing bowel cancer

Flexi-scope cuts the risk of developing bowel cancer by a third. It is estimated that this quick method, which has been adopted by the UK National Screening Programme to be rolled-out over four years, will save around 3,000 lives a year. Read more about preventing bowel cancer.