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LifeArc awards £3m to advance promising early rare disease research


LifeArc has awarded £3 million to de-risk and accelerate around 30 innovative early research projects investigating the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of rare diseases at six UK universities.

University College London, University of Birmingham, University of Edinburgh, University of Manchester, University of Newcastle and the University of Sheffield have each been awarded a £500k LifeArc Pathfinder Award.

The Pathfinder Award provides early-stage grant funding for researchers to run early studies testing novel scientific ideas for diagnosing and treating a wide spectrum of rare diseases, enabling them to achieve the data and evidence hurdles needed to leverage future funding.

“We have created this pump-prime funding to help researchers get innovative approaches off the ground, test the theories and collect the evidence needed to move forward to the next stage of research and funding. We also hope that the award will encourage more researchers to move into the rare disease space and promote the development of a translational culture – pushing more discoveries from the lab into meaningful real-world benefits for patients.”

Samira Fakire, Business Manager at LifeArc

The six universities were chosen by LifeArc for their excellence in both rare disease research and clinical care. They are each undertaking their own selection process to allocate the funds to different research approaches.

“We are excited to be working with LifeArc in the important area of developing therapies for rare diseases. This will enable researchers from the University of Edinburgh to focus their excellent research against these difficult medical challenges. By working together and finding common approaches we will seek to have maximum impact and develop new therapies for patients with rare diseases where there is currently such unmet need.”

Professor Stuart Forbes, Director, Institute for Regeneration and Repair and Centre for Regenerative Medicine on Edinburgh BioQuarter


LifeArc has research facilities at Edinburgh BioQuarter, and this funding aligns with the organisation’s approach of partnering with researchers in academia, charities, and patient groups to address the need for more treatments for rare diseases.

LifeArc provides a range of advice, funding and science to help scientists turn promising research into potential treatments.

Find out more about how LifeArc accelerate research into rare diseases.