Uni receives grant for new research centre

Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, a partnership between the University of Manchester and six regional NHS trusts, will refurbish a derelict grade 2-listed building to create a health data study centre after receiving £5m from the Medical Research Council.

The MRC is investing £20m across the country in four centres in Manchester, London, Dundee and Swansea. The centres, known as the Farr Institute, will link research in 19 universities across the UK.

The Farr Institute at Manchester will be based in the biomedical campus next to the Stopford Building, behind The Holy Name Church on Oxford Road. The derelict Vaughan House will be refurbished to house the research centre.

Prof Ian Jacobs, dean of the faculty of medical and human sciences, said: "This new centre will provide a focus for the world-leading work in eHealth research that is happening in Manchester. It brings together clinicians and researchers capable of using sophisticated ways to capture and make the best use of health information and apply it to achieve health benefits."

Around 50 staff currently working at various sites across Greater Manchester will be able to come together at the Manchester site. Health and computer scientists will combine their expertise to interpret large and complex health datasets in research environments that safeguard patient confidentiality. Researchers will develop methods for safely sharing, combining and analysing diverse datasets across boundaries, enabling new discoveries and validating research findings with a speed and scale not previously possible.

The Farr Institute is named for one of the pioneers of medical statistics, the epidemiologist William Farr (1807-83). Farr's most significant contribution to public health was setting up a system that routinely recorded the cause of death in the death record. Such detailed statistics provided the raw data which allowed a far more detailed analysis of death within the general population. For example, the mortality rates of different professions or of those living in different locations could be compared.

The MAHSC partners are the University of Manchester; Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust; Salford CCG; Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust; The Christie NHS Foundation Trust; and University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust.

The architect for the Manchester project is Fairhurst. Completion is due by March 2014.

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