The Medical Research Council (MRC) improves the health of people in the UK - and around the world - by supporting excellent science, and training the very best scientists. They are a non-departmental public body funded through the government’s science and research budget.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, tuberculosis was one of the UK’s most urgent health problems. A royal commission, entitled The Royal Commission Appointed to Inquire into the Relations of Human and Animal Tuberculosis, was set up in 1901. It aimed to find out whether tuberculosis in animals and humans was the same disease and whether animals and humans could infect each other. This page describes how, by 1919, the Commission had evolved into the independent Medical Research Council.
In 1911, Parliament passed the National Insurance Act, introduced by David Lloyd George as Chancellor of the Exchequer, which put in place schemes for health and unemployment insurance. One provision – paid for with a penny per working person per year - was sanatorium treatment for cases of tuberculosis and for ‘purposes of research’. This created a national fund for medical research and amounted to £57,000 a year - equivalent to nearly £4 million today.
A committee of the Insurance Commissioners in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales recommended there be a research organisation with an advisory council and an executive committee.
The heart of the mission is to improve human health through world-class medical research. To achieve this, they support research across the biomedical spectrum, from fundamental lab-based science to clinical trials, and in all major disease areas. They work closely with the NHS and the UK Health Departments to deliver the mission, and give a high priority to research that is likely to make a real difference to clinical practice and the health of the population.
The MRC’s mission, as set out in the Royal Charter (PDF, 21KB)
, is to:
Encourage and support research to improve human health.
Produce skilled researchers.
Advance and disseminate knowledge and technology to improve the quality of life and economic competitiveness of the UK.
Promote dialogue with the public about medical research.