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BBSRC neuroscience funding

11 February 2011

Following claims by the British Neuroscience Association (BNA) that BBSRC’s intention to focus support for neuroscience within its strategic priorities would damage UK neuroscience research, BBSRC yesterday published the statement below. The statement makes clear that BBSRC’s contribution might reduce from £20M pa to around £16M pa as part of strategic reprioritisation across BBSRC’s £450M pa portfolio. At its media briefing, BNA estimated overall UK neuroscience funding to be c. £200M pa. A major funder, the Medical Research Council, has announced plans to increase funding in neuroscience by around £20M.

Statement published on 10 February 2011

BBSRC and its research community will continue to play a key role in finding solutions to important social and scientific challenges. BBSRC's strategic priorities are in supporting research in the areas of food security and industrial biotechnology, and in the basic science underpinning health and well being.

In making sure that its spread of funding is matched appropriately to these priorities, BBSRC has announced that it expects to reduce funding to aspects of neuroscience that fall outside its priority areas. BBSRC maintains close contact, to ensure a join up between basic neuroscience and research into specific diseases or clinical applications, with the Medical Research Council which is a much larger funder of neuroscience research overall. In reallocating funding to its priority areas, BBSRC spend in neuroscience might reduce from c.£20M to around £16M.

BBSRC continues to support world class neuroscience, and to encourage neuroscientists to apply for support where their research addresses BBSRC's priority areas. Examples of excellent neuroscience supported within BBSRC's priority areas include: the neuroscience of ageing, understanding of how the neural network affects falls in older people, farmed animal health and behaviour and the psychology of diet and health.

BBSRC published its Delivery Plan, which outlines how we intend to pursue our mission over the next four years, last December. This followed extensive and open consultation with our researchers and other partners on our new strategic plan, which was published in January 2010.

BBSRC's fundamental bioscience underpins vital fundamental research and innovation in healthcare and disease prevention, including the development of platform technologies and associated companies that attract inward investment. However, BBSRC's remit does not extend to funding research that aims to treat a disease. The Delivery Plan makes clear the distinction between areas of research supported by BBSRC and MRC respectively.