The MRC Centre for Reproductive Health’s mission is “through interdisciplinary
research and research training to understand the integrative tissue biology that
confers powers of resilience and repair upon the human reproductive system, and
to explore and exploit the wider implications of these mechanisms”.
Core to the philosophy of the Centre is a strong integration between basic and
clinical studies underpinned by joint grants and co-supervision of trainees that
ensures we maintain a robust research framework within which mechanistic
insights into normal and abnormal tissue function can be translated for patient
The Centre was launched on 1st April 2011 following the award of a £1.1 million
grant from the MRC. In 2011 our primary focus was on restructuring,
reorganization and recruitment, in 2012 we have re-energized our research
activities, consolidated our new PhD training programme and increased our
income from grants.
In 2011/2012 there was an increase in both the quality and quantity of
publications with papers spanning a wide range of research topics from basic
mechanistic insights into key processes e.g. control of RNA translation, to an
enhanced understanding of the pivotal role of sex steroids in formation and
function of reproductive tissues and their disorders, and application of advanced
imaging technologies to inform and guide clinical research.
The vision of increased interactions between research groups based in MRC-CRH
and those in the wider Edinburgh community has been realized with evidence of
joint authored publications in high impact Journals.
Close collaboration between members of the Centre and NHS clinics, notably
those on the Little France Site, supported Clinical studies, Clinical Trials,
successful grant applications and our flagship Edinburgh Tommy’s Centre for
Maternal and Fetal Health. An extensive tissue archive as well as a tissue Biobank
enhanced our ability to deliver health/wealth benefits.
The SuRF core service facilities were set up and managed on the basis of full
cost-recovery – key to delivery of our ambitious research agenda are the
histology and imaging and biomolecular core facilities – both are in high demand
from scientists outside the Centre and have delivered balanced budgets with a
vision for expansion of services.
Following a large number of successful grant applications 2012 has witnessed a
period of very intense staff recruitment. Staff development has been encouraged
with capacity building a key priority – this has been achieved by supporting junior
staff to obtain grants and ensuring PhD and MSc students receive guidance
during their studies and support in finding jobs. Senior staff have a strong track
record in mentorship of trainees and also make substantive contributions to
Staff, trainees, PhD and MSc students within the Centre have all contributed to an
outstanding and wide-ranging programme of public engagement. Special mention
is due to the PhD students who have consistently won national prizes and taken
responsibility for innovative outreach programmes – one of these the ‘Egg and
Sperm Race’ make its second appearance at the Greenman Music Festival.
In 2011-2012 grant income in the Centre increased by 300% compared with the
previous financial year topping £30 million in August. The number of grant
applications have also increased as has the range of sources from which funding
has been obtained.
Peer recognition and wider engagement:
Outstanding contributions of individuals have been recognized by awards, prizes
and election as Fellows of leading Scientific organizations including the Royal
Society of Edinburgh and the Academy of Medical Sciences. The wider impact on
society was assured by active engagement of staff with policy makers, public
bodies, learned societies, charities and the commercial sector.
As the Centre goes from strength to strength I look forward handing over the
reins to Professor Jeffrey Pollard who will take over as Director in December
Professor Philippa Saunders FMedSci. MRC-CRH Director. 1st September 2012.