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Funders’ announcement on future of UK National Stem Cell Network

20 December 2011

The Research Councils that sponsor the UK National Stem Cell Network (UKNSCN) have announced their intention to cease funding its activities from 31 December 2011.

Since its inception, the Network has played an important role in building a UK-wide research community in stem cell research. In light of the current Forward Look in Regenerative Medicine, leading to the publication of a UK strategic plan in March 2012, the Research Councils that have funded the Network since 2006 (BBRSC, MRC, EPSRC and ESRC) are now considering future needs and priorities in this area.

The provision of networking activity across the disciplines and sectors key to progress in this area will also be informed by a review of UKNSCN that the RCUK Strategy Unit carried out in early 2011.

Dr Colin Miles of BBSRC, Chair of the UKNSCN Management Board, said on behalf of the sponsors: "The UK National Stem Cell Network made significant progress in bringing together the wide range of disciplines and interests in the UK stem cell community, most notably through its annual science meeting.

"With the recent announcement of significant new investment for this area, through the Research Councils and Technology Strategy Board, this is a crucially important time for regenerative medicine in the UK. When our UK strategic plan for this area is published in March we will be able to move ahead with a coherent and fully-integrated approach."

ENDS

About EPSRC

The Engineering and Physical Sciences research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800M a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change.

The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via research Councils UK. Visit their website at: www.epsrc.ac.uk.

About ESRC

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's total budget for 2011/12 is £203M. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at www.esrc.ac.uk.

About MRC

For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council has improved the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class scientists. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a flourishing environment for internationally recognised research. The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs, including one of the first antibiotics penicillin, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges of the 21st century. www.mrc.ac.uk.

About BBSRC

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £445M, we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk .
For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/institutes .