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Manchester BRC appoints new acting director

The Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) has appointed Professor Graeme Black as its Acting Director.

He succeeds Professor Phil Baker, who is leaving to take up a new role in Canada. Established in April 2008 with £35 million of funding, the BRC is a partnership between the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester. It is one of 12 major centres of medical research excellence across the UK funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and specialises in genetics and developmental medicine.

The BRC aims to translate developments in biomedical research from the laboratory to the Trust's five hospitals, where new treatments and technologies can benefit patients from Greater Manchester and beyond. Its work is also funded by the North West Regional Development Agency.

A key member of the team which gained BRC status for Manchester in 2008, Graeme Black is Professor of Genetics and Ophthalmology at The University of Manchester and an honorary consultant at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He studied initially at Cambridge, qualified in Medicine from Oxford and then undertook clinical training in Ophthalmology and Medical Genetics. He gained a DPhil in Genetics at Oxford in 1994, moving to Manchester in 1995 to continue his research and clinical work. Graeme Black's major research interest is the investigation of genetic disorders associated with visual disability, focusing on conditions including cataract and retinal degeneration. The ultimate aim of his work is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.

As a member of the BRC leadership team, Graeme Black has been instrumental in developing its research capacity and infrastructure. "My new role is an exciting opportunity to drive the research agenda forward and enhance our considerable strengths in genetic and developmental medicine. The BRC partners are keen to capitalise on the outstanding facilities offered by the £500 million new hospital development in central Manchester, and to use cutting edge technology to deliver benefits for our patients through improvement in diagnosis and development of new treatments; we want scientific breakthroughs made in Manchester to help improve healthcare for people nationwide."

Welcoming Professor Black's appointment, Trust Chief Executive Mike Deegan said: "Our thanks go to Phil Baker, who has drawn together the skills of Trust and University colleagues to begin establishing Manchester as the home of world class healthcare. We are very pleased that a scientist and clinician of Graeme Black's calibre is taking over, and I am sure he will lead the partnership very effectively in responding to the major challenges of turning medical research into innovative patient treatments."