EPSRC and MRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Regenerative Medicine

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Engineering and Physical Sciences


Regenerative medicine aims to develop biomaterial and cell-based therapies that restore function to damaged tissues and organs. It is a cornerstone of contemporary and future medicine that needs a multidisciplinary approach. There is a world-wide shortage in scientists with such skillsets, which was highlighted in 2012 by the Research Councils UK in their 'A Strategy for UK Regenerative Medicine" which promotes 'training programmes to build capacity and provide the skills-base needed for the field to flourish'.

The major clinical need for regenerative medicine was highlighted by the Science and Technology Committee (House of Lords; July 2013), who identified that 'The UK has the chance to be a leader in [regenerative medicine] and this opportunity must not be missed', and that 'there is likely to be a £44-54bn NHS funding gap by 2022 and that management of chronic disease accounts for around 75% of all UK health costs'. Vascular diseases are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, musculoskeletal diseases have a huge burden in pain and disability, diabetes may be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030, and peripheral nerve injuries impair mobility after traumatic injuries.

There is a pressing need for commercial input into regenerative medicine. Whilst the next generation of therapies, such as stem cells and biomaterials, will be underpinned by cutting-edge biology and bioengineering, strong industrial-academic partnerships are essential for developing and commercialising these advances for clinical benefit. We have established strong industrial partnerships which will both enhance the CDT training experience and provide major added value to our industrial partners.

Regenerative medicine is a top priority for the University of Manchester (UoM) which has excellence in interdisciplinary graduate training and a critical mass of internationally renowned researchers, including newly appointed world-leaders. Our regenerative medicine encompasses physical, chemical, biological and medical sciences; we focus on tissue regeneration and inflammation, engineering and fabrication of biomaterials, and in vivo imaging and clinical translation, all on our integrated biomedical campus.

We propose a timely Centre for Doctoral Training in Regenerative Medicine in Manchester that draws on our exceptional multidisciplinary depth and breadth, and directly addresses the skills shortage in non-clinical and clinical RM scientists. Our expertise integrates tissue regeneration & repair, the design & engineering of biomaterials, and the clinical translation of both biological and synthetic constructs. Our centres of excellence and internationally-leading supervisors across this multidisciplinary spectrum (details in Case for Support and UoM Letter of Support) highlight the strength of our scientific training environment.

Defining CDT features will be: integrated cohort-based multidisciplinary training; skills training in engineering, biomedical sciences and pre-clinical translation; imaging in national Large Facilities; medical problem-solving nature of clinically co-supervised PhD projects, including in vivo training; comprehensive instruction in transferable skills and commercialisation; outward-facing ethos with placements with UK Regenerative Medicine Platform hub partners (UoM is partner on all three funded hubs), industrial partners, and international exchanges with world-class similarly-orientated doctoral schools; presentations in seminars and conferences. In this way, we will deliver a cadre of multidisciplinary scientists to meet the needs of academia and industry, and ensure the UK's continuing international leadership in RM. Ultimately, through training this cadre of doctoral scientists in regenerative medicine, we will be able to improve wound healing, repair injured nerves, blood vessels, tendon and ligaments, treat joint disease and restore function to organs damaged by disease.

Planned Impact

Regenerative medicine aims to develop biomaterial and cell-based therapies that restore function to damaged tissues and organs. It is a priority of the University and the nation, and a central focus of the EPSRC challenge theme "Healthcare Technologies". It is also an MRC strategic priority, "Repair and replacement: to translate burgeoning knowledge in regenerative medicine into new treatment strategies". It is in recognition of the challenges associated with clinical translation of regenerative medicine that EPSRC, MRC, BBSRC and TSB jointly funded the £25m UK Regenerative Medicine Platform - UoM is a partner on all three funded national hubs: 'Engineering and exploiting the stem cell niche', 'Acellular technologies, 'Safety and efficacy'. Our Centre for Doctoral Training in Regenerative Medicine, and hub partnerships, will have major impact by delivering a cohort of highly training scientists and clinicians who can take regenerative medicine to the next level of therapeutic efficacy, and engage with these national hubs. This capability will enable the UK to retain its position as a world-leader in regenerative medicine.

Specific impacts include:

(i) Biomedical scientists, the UK regenerative medicine community and international colleagues
Major impact will be achieved by training our students in the scientific methods required to: understand how the microenvironment (niche) directs cells to remodel tissues; design (nano)materials that interact at a mechanical and biochemical level with cells and orient their behaviour; understand how inflammatory processes affect regeneration; translate this knowledge to patients.
Our students will have the outstanding opportunity of benefiting directly from, and contributing directly to all the national UK Regenerative Medicine Platform hubs.
Added value will be achieved through research collaborations and data/reagent sharing across the University of Manchester and the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, nationally through the hubs, and internationally through our six world-leading doctoral centre partners.
The Centre's strong links with MIMIT (Manchester: Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology; linked to CIMIT, Boston USA), which develops clinical solutions for tissue repair and related unmet clinical needs, and with the Manchester Collaborative Centre for inflammation Research, enable our students to develop new regenerative strategies that encompass inflammatory control.

(ii) Biopharma
The ability to direct the effective repair or regeneration of tissues is highly sought after by cell therapy/regenerative medicine/tissue engineering companies wishing to translate these discoveries to new therapeutic products, and to Biopharma to inform the design and delivery of niche-based biologics and MSC-based anti-inflammatory therapies. We have more than 30 industrial partners, attesting to the strength of our Centre plan.
Our students will be advised by the University of Manchester Intellectual Property (UMIP) in all aspects of commercialisation, e.g. selling/licensing of reagents, provision of research expertise, in-house assays/techniques, co-development of technologies or licensing of IP.

(iii) General Public
The Centre will be a powerful platform for the Centre students to inform the public about our regenerative medicine activities and therapeutic advances.
The students will write review articles for popular press and student science magazines; develop skills in communications and public engagement; participate in Manchester Science Week and internet fora; develop outreach materials to inform local, national and international audiences, and meet patient groups.


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