The Medical Research Council (MRC) is calling on the UK research community — industry, clinical and academic — to join a group of research consortia being developed to stratify diseases including asthma, cancer, hypertension, the lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, lupus, a kidney disease called nephrotic syndrome, and transplantation.

The aim is that each consortium will provide an inclusive, internationally competitive, dynamic platform for research, creating opportunities for further funding and collaboration, and enabling the development of clinically valuable therapeutic and diagnostic outputs.

Patients with the same disease often respond differently to treatment because of subtle differences in their underlying disease mechanisms. For example, patients with a specific gene mutation may respond to treatment differently to patients without the mutation.

Stratified medicine groups patients into different ‘strata’ based on these differences and treats them accordingly. However, before this can happen, groups of patients must be studied to find these underlying mechanisms and stratify a disease, determine the best treatments for different groups and develop diagnostics to guide treatment.

For this reason, following consultations with a range of stakeholders, the MRC has adopted a disease-focused approach to stratified medicine; our £60 million Stratified Medicine Initiative. In 2013 we requested proposals to a second call to develop research consortia exploring why a disease was ripe for stratification, mechanisms underpinning this stratification, and how the stratification would provide real benefit to patients.

On 13 May we announced nine shortlisted proposals that could be funded under the initiative’s second phase. These successful teams are now required to submit full applications by 17 July 2014.

As a research council, the MRC can directly support only the academic partners in these consortia. However we have a flexible model for supporting academic-industrial collaborations, which allows commercial partners to make contributions, including in-kind contributions — of any scale — dependent upon the distribution of rights to academically generated intellectual property. Further details of this approach can be found on our MRC Industry Collaboration Application webpage here.

All interested parties should contact the relevant lead Principle Investigator, in the first instance, to discuss the consortium’s plan and how they might be able to contribute to this.

Shortlisted applications for full proposals:

Principle Investigator Research Organisation Title
Professor Ian Bruce The University of Manchester Maximizing Sle ThERapeutic PotentiaL by Application of Novel and Systematic approaches (MASTERPLANS)
Professor Phil Chowienczyk King’s College London Ancestry and biological Informative Markers for stratification of Hypertension: The AIM HY study
Professor Liam Heaney Queen’s University of Belfast UK Refractory Asthma Stratification Programme
Professor Peter Johnson University of Southampton Precision medicine for aggressive lymphomas
Professor Graham Lord King’s College London The prevention of organ allograft failure by stratified immunomodulation: the prevention and treatment of anti-donor specific antibodies.
Professor Timothy Maughan University of Oxford Stratification in COloRectal cancer: from biology to Treatment prediction: S-CORT
Professor Christian Ottensmeier University of Southampton SPARC: A Stratified & Personalized Approach to Research into Immunotherapy for Cancer
Professor Luca Richeldi University of Southampton Stratification to Optimise Relevant Therapy in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (SORT-IPF)
Professor Moin Saleem University of Bristol CoNeCon – The comprehensive Nephrotic Syndrome Consortium. Targeting treatment to the podocyte