Using a genome sequencer.

Using a genome sequencer.
© Noel Murphy

The Francis Crick Institute is an ambitious project to create a world-leading medical research centre. It will build on the achievements of the six organisations involved. Each one has already made huge contributions to improving people's health.

For almost 100 years, the Medical Research Council has improved health by supporting the highest quality science. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and funded many medical breakthroughs, including the discoveries of the human influenza virus, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today, it tackles the major health challenges of the 21st century. MRC-funded scientists have recently proved that statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) cut the risk of strokes and heart attacks and developed new tests for bowel cancer and tuberculosis.

Thanks to its supporters, Cancer Research UK's work has helped transform the way cancer is prevented, diagnosed and treated today. Survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years and Cancer Research UK's work has been at the heart of this progress. Its work is behind many important drugs such as tamoxifen and herceptin, which have saved the lives of thousands of women with breast cancer, and carboplatin - one of the most successful cancer drugs ever developed. Its ground-breaking research led to a dramatic increase in the numbers of people whose cancer could be cured by radiotherapy, and has influenced three national screening programmes for breast, bowel and cervical cancer, which save thousands of lives each year.

Read more about the achievements of CRUK's London Reseach Institute in an online book Blue Skies and Benchspace.

In 2007, the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium published the results of a £9 million study of the genetics behind common diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and coronary heart disease. The study is one of the UK's largest, most successful academic collaborations to date, bringing together 50 leading research groups and 200 scientists in the field of human genetics.

UCL scientists and clinicians have been responsible for a number of medical firsts that have changed the lives of patients. A UCL professor performed the first operation under anaesthetic in Europe in 1846, revolutionising modern surgery. In 2010, a UCL team performed a pioneering operation to replace the damaged windpipe of a young boy, using the patient's own stem cells to ensure that the donor organ was not rejected. Some 21 Nobel Prize winners, 11 in Physiology or Medicine, have come from the UCL community.

Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial College London has made significant contributions to society including the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve global health.

King's College London has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA. More recently, scientists at King's have developed the first advanced computer programme to detect the early signs of Alzheimer's disease from a routine clinical brain scan, and pioneered a new method of diagnosing autism in adults.

  • Each of the Crick's founding organisations is recognised for achievements in funding or carrying out ground-breaking medical research.
  • Medical Research Council-funded scientists proved that cholesterol-lowering drugs cut the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
  • Cancer Research UK research led to the development of cancer drugs tamoxifen and herceptin.
  • The Wellcome Trust funded a £9 million collaborative study into the genetics behind common diseases such as diabetes.
  • UCL scientists pioneered the use of stem cells to prevent the rejection of donor organs.
  • King's College London has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA.