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Current MRC logo

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is a UK organisation dedicated to "promot[ing] the balanced development of medical and related biological research in the UK".


The MRC is one of eight Research Councils and is answerable to, although politically independent from, the Office of Science and Technology, which - in turn - is part of the Department of Trade and Industry.

It is governed by a council of 14 members, which convenes every two months. Daily management is in the hands of the Chief Executive. Members of the council also chair specialist boards on specific areas of research. For specific subjects, the council convenes committees.

The MRC funds research centres, three main institutes (in Cambridge, Mill Hill and Hammersmith) and 35 smaller units nationwide. Overseas facilities are located in Gambia and Uganda.


The MRC started as the Medical Research Committee in 1913, its prime role being the distribution of medical research funds under the terms of the 1911 National Insurance Act. This was a consequence of the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Tuberculosis, which recommended the creation of a permanent medical research body. The mandate was not limited to tuberculosis, however.

In 1920, it became the Medical Research Council under Royal Charter. A supplemental Charter would be approved by the Queen at the 17 July 2003 Privy Council.

Landmark research

Important early work carried out under MRC auspices was:

In all, scientists associated with the MRC have received 22 Nobel Prizes in both Medicine or Physiology and Chemistry.


As Chief Executive Officers (originally secretaries) served:

  • 1914-33: Sir Walter Morley Fletcher
  • 1933-49: Sir Edward Mellanby
  • 1949-68: Sir Harold Himsworth
  • 1968-77: Sir John Gray
  • 1977-87: Sir James Gowans
  • 1987-96: Sir Dai Rees
  • 1996-2003: Professor Sir George Radda
  • 2003-present: Professor Colin Blakemore

Subsections of Institutes


  • Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB)
  • Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (CBU) - Formerly known as the Applied Psychology Unit (APU)
  • Biostatistics unit
  • Centre for Protein Engineering
  • Dunn Nutrition Centre
  • The Hutchison/MRC Research Centre

Imperial College London/Hammersmith Hospital

  • MRC Clinical Sciences Centre (CSC)

University College London

  • MRC National Survey of Health & Development: the 1946 cohort longitudinal study, originally of health and child development and, more recently, of ageing.

Mill Hill

  • National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR)

External links

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