Our founding institutes

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Clare Hall

Clare Hall

The Clare Hall laboratories, along with Lincoln's Inn Fields, were the principal research facilities of the former Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), prior to its amalgamation with the Cancer Research Campaign (CRC) to form Cancer Research UK in 2002.

Clay Hall, as it was originally called, was built around 1745 by Thomas Roberts, a linen draper of St Albans. It was renamed Clare Hall in 1750.

From 1886 to 1974 the building was used variously as a nunnery, a smallpox isolation hospital and then a treatment centre for treating tuberculosis and other thoracic cases, which closed in 1974.

The buildings remained empty until 1980 when they were acquired by the ICRF for scientific laboratories and support services. 

The Clare Hall laboratories were officially opened in 1986. Under the direction of Dr Tomas Lindahl, Clare Hall became a leading centre for studies of DNA repair, recombination and replication, cell cycle control and transcription. In addition, the site provided scientific support services of increasing sophistication to scientists throughout the ICRF. 

Upon the creation of Cancer Research UK in 2002, Clare Hall laboratories combined with the former ICRF's central laboratories in Lincoln's Inn Fields to form the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute (LRI). In 2005 John Diffley became director of the Clare Hall laboratories until it became part of the Crick in April 2015.

LRI exterior

Lincoln's Inn Fields

The Cancer Research Fund was the UK's first specialist cancer research organisation when it formed in 1902. Before its formation, cancer research was carried out exclusively at hospitals. In 1904, the fund was renamed the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF).

ICRF laboratories occupied various locations in London until moving to a specialist laboratory block located adjacent to the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincoln's Inn Fields in the 1950s. The new laboratories were opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 11 June 1963, under the directorship of Guy Mariann.

Michael Stoker took over as Director in 1968 and established the laboratories as a world-leading centre for DNA and RNA tumour virus biology. A new laboratory extension opened in 1973, doubling the size of the laboratories. 

Walter Bodmer took over as scientific director of the laboratories in 1979, presiding over a substantial expansion of research into human cancer genetics. Paul Nurse took the helm in 1994.

In addition to housing more than 40 independent research groups, the building supported sophisticated research services including electron and light microscopy, mass spectrometry, informatics and pathology. 

Clare Hall laboratories combined with the former ICRF's central laboratories in Lincoln's Inn Fields to form the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute (LRI) in 2002. Richard Treisman served as the director of the institute before it became part of the Crick in April 2015.

NIMR

Mill Hill

The Medical Research Council was established in 1913 as the Medical Research Committee, and one of its first decisions was to establish a central institute in London. In 1914, the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) was founded.

Premises at Mount Vernon Hospital in Hampstead were acquired but the outbreak of war in 1914 postponed occupation of the building. They were occupied in 1920, and the institute subsequently moved to its location at Mill Hill in 1950.

The building at Mill Hill was designed by Maxwell Ayrton, also the architect of nearby Wembley Stadium, and construction began in 1937. It was not officially opened by the Queen until the 1950, due to the outbreak of the Second World War.

Members of the Mill Hill laboratories, including five Nobel Laureates, have contributed notably to many fields of biomedical science. NIMR became part of the Crick in April 2015.