University of Strathclyde: Strathclyde joins global network dedicated to accelerated breakthroughs in human health

The University of Strathclyde has signed up to a global network aimed at delivering breakthroughs in human health over the period of a decade.

Strathclyde has become a member of the Wellcome Leap Health Breakthrough Network, which is the largest, most rapidly ‘activatable’ health research network in the world.


Wellcome Leap is a non-profit organisation founded by the Wellcome Trust to deliver breakthroughs in human health.

Strathclyde is one of only 14 UK institutions signed up to the network.

Participants in the network are committed to solving the world’s most serious health challenges — such as cancer and infectious diseases — at record speed. 

Currently, it can take as long as a year to finalise a research funding agreement and, when collaboration is required, work frequently cannot begin until all parties are signed, further prolonging the delay. Furthermore, key components needed to catalyse innovation sometimes come from individual researchers or smaller institutions that are often left out of major research initiatives. Breakthroughs require momentum, and diverse capabilities, wherever they exist globally.

The Wellcome Leap Health Breakthrough Network will help eliminate barriers to progress through the first-of-its-kind Master Academic Research Funding Agreement (MARFA), which equitably addresses all terms and conditions, including IP (intellectual property), ownership and publication. Once an organisation signs the MARFA, any researcher or group will need to negotiate only the statement of work and cost before funds can be transmitted and work can begin often in days, shaving months or more off development timelines.

Strathclyde Principal Professor Sir Jim McDonald said: “I am delighted to have Strathclyde sign up to Wellcome Leap, which will make a vast difference to the process of drug discovery and development and will ensure treatments are delivered swiftly to patients worldwide.

“We are a leading international technological university committed to finding solutions to major global challenges and, as such, are well-placed to be active in this network.
“Accelerating drug discovery and development has always been central to the work of, for example, the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, the Centre for Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation and the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, in which we are the strategic research partner. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how urgently new, effective treatments are needed and Wellcome Leap will play a significant role in achieving this for a broad range of diseases.”

Strathclyde’s first successful bid for funding through Wellcome Leap is for the R3 project, led by Professor Harris Makatsoris at King’s College London’s Department of Engineering. The project will develop ‘microfactories’ to power the global manufacturing network of RNA (Ribonucleic acid) based products. Professor Yvonne Perrie, Head of the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, is Strathclyde’s lead and co-Principal Investigator in the project.

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