Early successes highlighted in M-RIC’s first progress report

A progress report has been published by the Mental Health Research for Innovation Centre (M-RIC), outlining achievements in the Centre’s first nine months.

M-RIC was established by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Liverpool after securing £10.5 million from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and the Office for Life Sciences (OLS).

The Centre is a key part of the Government’s UK Mental Health Mission, which aims to accelerate research and innovation in mental health.

In less than a year we have exceeded targets, establishing M-RIC and its work programmes spanning biological, behavioural, social and systems research linked to practical innovations:

  • 31 posts have been recruited
  • 16 industry partners engaged
  • 12 funding proposals submitted
  • 33 service users engaged in grant applications
  • Around one million patient records made available for research in a secure, trustworthy digital environment

Researchers, data scientists, health professionals, academics, industry partners and service users are now working together to make Liverpool a world leader in better mental healthcare.

A dedicated facility has been opened by The University of Liverpool, housing M-RIC colleagues alongside academic, NHS and industry partners in a cooperative model to use data to drive innovation and service change.

Prof Iain Buchan

Prof Iain Buchan

Professor Iain Buchan, the University of Liverpool’s Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Innovation and M-RIC Co-Director, said:

“We are in a unique position in Liverpool to bring together data from across different organisations through the Civic Data Co-operative, giving us a system-wide view of our population’s mental health needs and care.

“M-RIC uses this data platform, with extensive involvement of our residents and service-users, to not only fuel pre-planned research but also identify areas that need more study and more service innovation. By shortening the time from making discoveries to intervening with new or adapted therapies or pathways, M-RIC is creating a flywheel effect between research and innovation – a learning system. This learning includes stopping ineffective interventions promptly and diverting those resources to innovative approaches that are proving to be more effective, efficient and acceptable to our service users.”


Prof Nusrat Husain

Prof Nusrat Husain

Professor Nusrat Husain, Mersey Care’s Director of Research and Innovation, and Global Centre for Research on Mental Health Inequalities, and M-RIC Co-Director, said:

“We are shaping our work around the experiences of patients, service users and their carers because we want it to have a real impact on people’s lives – our research will lead to innovations in how we deliver care now and in the future.

“Ultimately we want Liverpool to become a world leader in better mental healthcare.”




M-RIC research revolves around six ‘work packages’, each of which has designated clinical academic leadership supported by researchers and patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) advisors.

The work illustrates Liverpool City Region and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s commitment to innovation and in increasing the involvement of patients and service users in improving care.

Below is a brief update on progress in the six work packages:

  • Data and digital infrastructure: The first import of data has taken place, into a Trusted Research Environment created with Microsoft, working with the Civic Data Cooperative. This will enable researchers and the NHS to use data analysis tools without compromising security, which is a priority for all organisations.
  • Digital Self or Health Avatar Project: This aims to improve how data is collected and linked to electronic care records, to benefit treatment for patients. It includes the ESNTL Wellness study in partnership with Apple and Concentrix using commodity wearable and mobile technologies in new ways to improve NHS worker wellbeing.
  • Innovative Therapies for Mood Disorders: This identifies service users and patients most in need of innovative methods to help with difficult-to-treat depression. A novel mood disorder service pathway – one of the first in the UK to be integrated between GPs and mental health services – is in the set-up phase and the first cohort of potential users have been identified.
  • Improving mental health for children and young people using digital technology: Our researchers are working with adolescents in testing MindAR, a therapeutic game and speech biomarker, which is a set of parameters associated to a clinical outcome which can detect or monitor a pathological state and classify its severity.
  • Neuroimmune therapeutics for psychosis: A system for discovering how to reuse established drugs that work on the immune system to help people with psychosis is being co-created with our services users, particularly those whose symptoms persist despite treatment.
  • System-Wide Mental Health Discovery and Implementation: Work to understand our population’s mental health burden and service uses is well under way and major new research programme in wider health determinants has been planned with Liverpool City Council. A new telehealth programme has been planned. A new research network focused on Adverse Childhood Experiences has been formed.
  • Patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) activities are gathering pace; patients and service users are now being sought to be part of the research journey. A dedicated PPIE team is also engaging with the public to raise awareness of M-RIC in different communities, supporting the cross-cutting themes of inclusion and diversity.

View the report here


M-RIC Progress Report authors:

  • Professor Nicola Wilson – M-RIC Programme Director, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Claire Smith – M-RIC Head of Operations (Research Programmes), The University of Liverpool
  • Prof Iain Buchan, M-RIC Co-Director, The University of Liverpool
  • Prof Nusrat Husain, M-RIC Co-Director, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust