From 1900 to the present day, Birmingham has been leading the way in research and education, making ground-breaking progress in areas that span industries such as gene structure, medicine, space research and communications.

Clinical Medicine in Birmingham ranks top in the West Midlands for research impact; in the most recent Research Excellence Framework in 2014, 87% of the University’s research had global impact.  The main School of Medicine site is located just off the University campus adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth and Women’s Hospitals. Some Divisional buildings, including Public Health and General Practice, are located on the University campus.

The College is headed by Professor David Adams, Dean of Medicine, and is the largest in the University with a turnover in excess of £87 million a year. The College of Medical and Dental Sciences is made up of eight institutes: Applied Health Research, Cancer and Genomic Sciences, Cardiovascular Sciences, Immunology and Immunotherapy, Inflammation and Ageing, Metabolism and Systems Research, Microbiology and Infection, and Clinical Sciences.

The College has the advantage of being the major provider of medical education in the West Midlands, an area with a 5.5 million population, a diverse urban and rural mix and a rich variety of medical and social conditions, which together constitute an ideal base for training the doctors of the future.

The College has a strong research base, which provides the intellectual leadership in the discipline across the region. It has a research income of over £60 million a year and ambitions to increase that figure dramatically. Research is funded by a range of organisations including Research Councils, Charities, Industry and International Sources (including the US National Institutes of Health and the European Commission).

The College has outstanding translational infrastructure, from a series of national Centres – including the NIHR Surgical Reconstruction & Microbiology Research Centre (co-funded with the Ministry of Defence), NIHR Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, NIHR Healthcare Technology Cooperative in Trauma, the MRC-ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research and our longstanding MRC Centre for Immune Regulation. Much of this infrastructure is joint with our NHS partners, such as the NIHR/Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility based across UoB, UHB and BCH which provides high-quality clinical environments for experimental and complex research studies, receiving the largest NIHR CRF award nationally in 2012 (£12.5M) to fund the running of the facility until 2017. We also have an Advanced Therapies Facility incorporating state-of-the-art cell and gene therapy capabilities, and one of the largest clusters of clinical trials expertise in Europe through our three major trials units.

Continuing to build on this outstanding infrastructure, in 2015 we are opening a new £24M Institute for Translational Medicine as the engine for our University-NHS partnership to translate laboratory discovery into improved patient care and commercial activity. The ITM will incorporate clinics for a broad range of well-characterised patient cohorts including common and rare diseases, a portal for clinical trials and an early drug discovery unit, clinical bioinformatics and a floor of stratified medicine to include genomics and deep immunophenotyping. This will include an integrated training programme for clinicians, life scientists and allied health professionals to develop the translational researchers of the future. Analytical capacity will be used to exploit access to some of the world’s most complete healthcare data through UHB’s state of the art comprehensive Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system, recording data from 800,000 adult patients each year and soon to be extended to BCH.

There are outstanding research strengths within the Schools of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences that provide important opportunities for collaborative interactions. The largest, and strategically most important, groupings are in the following areas:

  • Cancer Biology The Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences is internationally renowned and combines basic science and clinical research teams with common interests in tumour pathogenesis and in the design and testing of novel cancer therapies. The institute has an international reputation for work in tumour virology/immunology (Professors Martin Rowe and Ben Willcox), haematological malignancy (Professor Paul Moss) genetic susceptibility to cancer (Professor Malcolm Taylor) and clinical trials (Prof Pam Kearns).
  • Immunology  is extremely strong in Birmingham, with the University of Birmingham Centre for Immune Regulation established as an MRC Centre in 1999. Research interests include B cell development, B cell/T cell interactions and antibody responses (Profs. Peter Lane and Adam Cunningham) and T cell development (Profs. Eric Jenkinson, Graham Anderson). In addition a group with a common interest in adhesion molecules and chemokines addresses the pathogenesis of autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases (Prof. David Adams, Prof. Lorraine Harper, Prof Gerard Nash and Prof Chris Buckley).
  • Infection is a potentially strong area with current interests in hepatitis virology (Prof Jane McKeating and Dr Peter Balfe) as outlined above; the host genetics and immunology of mycobacterial infection (Prof Del Besra and Dr. Tony Lammas); bacterial genomics (Prof Ian Henderson) and antimicrobial resistance (Prof Laura Piddock).
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism This is a strong research area under the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research (IMSR). IMSR comprises a multi-disciplinary research environment focusing on highly innovative translational research in collaboration between clinician scientists, clinical trialists, molecular and cell biologists, biochemists, mass spectrometrists, exercise biologists and computational scientists. IMSR researchers explore pathophysiological mechanisms, as well as novel approaches to prognosis, diagnosis and treatment in metabolic, endocrine and reproductive diseases. Details on the 35 principal investigators and their work in the IMSR can be found in
  • Neuroscience Research is multidisciplinary combining high level clinical trials of boron capture therapy for brain tumours (neurosurgery) with a strong theme of molecular and human genetics.  Parkinson’s disease and molecular psychiatry, involving studies of the genetics of mood disorders (Dr Lisa Jones). 
  • Hepatology The liver research laboratories have long-standing interests in immunology and inflammation, expanding to molecular virology and mechanisms of liver injury (Profs Adams and Newsome). Large patient cohorts with chronic viral hepatitis, hepatocellular carcinoma and a major liver transplant programme provide further integrated research opportunities spanning, laboratory, translational and clinical research.
  • Renal Medicine The renal research laboratories have long standing interests in immunology and inflammation with a particular focus on ANCA-associated vasculitis (Prof Harper). Research within the group is geared to better understanding mechanisms of disease and developing strategies for prevention and treatment. Large patient cohorts with chronic kidney disease and a major transplant programme provide further integrated research opportunities spanning laboratory, translational and clinical research.
  • Rheumatology  A characteristic feature of chronic inflammatory reactions is their persistence and predilection for certain sites. The rheumatology group investigates the role that tissue resident stromal cells (fibroblasts) play in determining both the switch to persistence as well as the site at which inflammation occurs. In chronic inflammation the resolution phase is prolonged and disordered leading to the persistent accumulation of the inflammatory infiltrate. Our work has allowed us to propose that a stromal area post code, predominantly defined by fibroblasts, exists within tissues (Prof Buckley).

Birmingham University Academic Foundation Programmes

Academic foundation trainees at trusts affiliated to the University of Birmingham attend formal teaching programmes:

  • Each of the 3 Birmingham teaching trusts (University Hospitals Birmingham, Heart of England and Sandwell and West Birmingham) has a separate clinical teaching programme for each foundation year.
  • In the academic foundation year 2 posts, trainees attend a specific 4 month Tuesday afternoon academic training programme at the NIHR/ Wellcome Clinical Research Facility. The programme is illustrated below:

Taught Programme for Academic F2 at the University of Birmingham

Week 1



Critical Appraisal


Dr Matthew Morgan

Clinical Senior Lecturer in Renal Medicine

University of Birmingham

Week 2


Clinical Research – The challenges

How to design a RCT

Professor Caroline Gordon

Professor of Rheumatology

University of Birmingham


Week 3


Statistics for researchers



Dr Peter Nightingale

Wolfson Computer Laboratories


Week 4


Informatics as a Research Tool


Terence Read

Health Informatics

Wolfson Computer Laboratories


Week 5


How to write an academic paper

How to write a grant

Dr Parth Narendran

Clinical Senior Lecturer

University of Birmingham


Week 6


How do you collect, analyse and present experimental data?

Journal club

Dr Patricia Lalor

Senior Lecturer, Centre for Liver Research

University of Birmingham


Week 7


Animal research – Is it still necessary

Ethics of animal research

Professor Adam Cunningham

MRC Centre for Immune Regulation

University of Birmingham


Week 8


 Researchers as Educators

Professor Jamie Coleman

Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Medical Education

University Of Birmingham

Week 9


Ethics of research and clinical practice

Research Governance

Professor Karim Raza

Professor of Rheumatology

University of Birmingham


Week 10


Obtaining grant funding


Journal Club

Dr Alex Sinclair

University of Birmingham

Week 11


Designing genetics studies

Journal Club


Dr Derek Lim

Medical/Molecular Genetics

University of Birmingham

Week 12


Statistics for researchers 2:  A practical application


Dr Peter Nightingale

Wolfson Computer Laboratories


Weeks 13-15


Private Study – Project Development



Week 16



Overview of module

Presentation of project

Aims and plans for future

Dr Matthew Morgan

Clinical Senior Lecturer, Renal Medicine

University of Birmingham


In short, the Medical School at the University of Birmingham is enjoying sustained growth in all of its core activities. It sees itself as among the top medical schools in the UK and aims to take advantage of its excellent position to grow further, to serve better the needs of the region through the provision of specialist patient care, its first class training of tomorrow's doctors and its internationally renowned research.


Page updated: 30 August 2016