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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 17:12 GMT
Budget boost for medical research
The institutes will search for new cures and treatments
The UK government is to set up new specialist research institutes to try to find treatments and cures for a range of diseases.

They will be modelled on the National Cancer Research Institute and will bring the UK's leading public and private sector researchers together.

The move was announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown in his Budget speech.

He said the government would fund the new institutes as part of a 10-year plan to boost medical research.

Specialist centres

The institutes will look at diseases "that place a high burden on the nation".

"Modelled on the successful National Cancer Research Institute, our 10 year plan will fund specialist research institutes for other diseases," Mr Brown told MPs.

Our 10 year plan will fund specialist research institutes for other diseases
Chancellor Gordon Brown
The National Cancer Research Institute was set up in April 2001.

Its members include the UK departments of health, the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and other leading charities.

It aims to take a strategic overview of cancer research in the UK, identify any gaps and encourage scientists to work together.

The government is also setting up a new UK Clinical Research Collaboration. This will involve the NHS, the pharmaceutical industry and medical charities.

It will be responsible for translating advances in science into real improvements for patients.

Extra money

In addition, Mr Brown announced plans to spend more government money on medical research. Under the plans, spending will increase by 100m by 2008.

"I can confirm today that the combined budget for medical research and research and development within the NHS will rise and by 2008 approach 1.2bn a year," he said.

"Our health budget is not just what we spend on the National Health Service but on medical research that is bringing new treatments and cures."

The Association of Medical Research Charities welcomed the extra money.

"It is important to remember that in addition to wealth creation, medical science has the potential to improve the quality of life of many millions in the UK and globally," said Diana Garnham, its chief executive.

"I look forward to working with the chancellor's team to develop the potential of UK science for public benefit."

Sir Keith Peters, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences echoed that view.

"The Academy of Medical Sciences warmly welcomes this substantial increase in funding for NHS research and development.

"It builds on the Academy's vision of a research-rich environment within the health service leading to new treatments for patients.

"The NHS offers great opportunities for medical research. Through this investment the UK will retain its place as a world-class leader in the medical sciences and attract the best minds to medical research. This will bring real benefit to patients."

A spokeswoman for the Stroke Association also welcomed the plans.

"The Stroke Association welcomes the new initiatives to increase funding for research into conditions such as stroke, outlined in today's budget.

"Every year over 130,000 people in England and Wales have a first-ever stroke or recurrent stroke and any developments in the treatment of stroke would have a dramatic impact on their quality of life."

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