Unprecedented step in science leadership

  • Date created: 11 August 2010

A consortium of the UK's largest and most successful scientific and academic institutions has laid out its plans for the biggest centre for biomedical research and innovation in Europe.

The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI), founded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and UCL (University College London) has released its vision for the institute alongside designs for the building. It will be based at St Pancras and Somers Town in the London Borough of Camden. The project represents a substantial investment from charity and public funders in the future growth of one of the UK's leading sectors.

The Vision was drafted by a panel of leading international scientists who came together to conceive of an institute capable of tackling the underlying causes of our most challenging health problems. They were advised by experts from Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard, the US National Institutes of Health and other world-renowned institutions, as well as leaders from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

The building, planned by a team led by the architects HOK working with PLP Architecture, is designed to foster innovation by allowing collaboration between different academic disciplines. The chairman of the Scientific Planning Committee - the Nobel Laureate and President of Rockefeller University, New York and incoming President of the Royal Society - Sir Paul Nurse, explained:"UKCMRI aims to break down the traditional barriers between different research teams and different disciplines, thereby encouraging biologists, clinician scientists, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, and computer scientists to work together to answer shared questions. With 1250 scientists working with an encompassing infrastructure, UKCMRI will provide the critical mass, support and unique environment to tackle difficult research questions."

The institute's scientific vigour will be maintained by the continuous renewal of research interests and skills - a strategy at the core of the UKCMRI vision. Most of the research groups at UKCMRI will be led by researchers fresh from a period of postdoctoral research. The institute's research funding, its interactive and interdisciplinary environment, and its cutting-edge scientific infrastructure will allow scientists to tackle ambitious and long-term research questions. These researchers will develop a prominent international scientific profile during a 10-12 year stay at UKCMRI, after which the majority will move on to leadership positions in this country and elsewhere, thereby fulfilling UKCMRI's key role to propagate and disperse scientists of the highest calibre throughout the UK. The institute's cadre of established international research leaders will provide continuity and a science-led operational culture. ?

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