Shaping the future of science: plans revealed for new world-leading biomedical research institute in central London

07 December 2009

The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI), a groundbreaking project to create a world-leading biomedical research institute in central London, has revealed its designs for the building and gives the first details of its proposed Scientific Vision and Research Strategy.

UKCMRI is a partnership of four of the world's most influential and respected scientific research organisations: Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, UCL (University College London) and the Wellcome Trust. Its aim is to discover and develop new understanding of and treatments for the illnesses which affect all families, such as cancers, heart disease and stroke, flu and other infections safeguarding the health of generations to come.

This ambitious project will keep Britain at the forefront of scientific endeavour and innovation. The calibre of research scientists expected to work in the new centre will attract high value investment, strengthen the economy and undertake research to improve people's lives.

Professor Sir Paul Nurse, Chairman of Scientific Planning at UKCMRI, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine and President of Rockefeller University in New York said: "We are one step closer to setting up this important research centre. UKCMRI will be the most exciting project for UK biomedical research in the next 50 years. Its ambition is immense and the promise of what can be achieved will excite and energise the global scientific community. London and the UK will be very proud of the work undertaken in this highly interactive building. London has been a global centre for leading medical research for four centuries. The ingenuity and excellence of scientists gathered in London has been extraordinary. UKCMRI will draw on that tradition. Situated at the heart of a matchless cluster of medical expertise in Camden, it aims to benefit the lives of countless people in the years ahead."

UKCMRI will be constructed on 3.6 acres of land, to the north of the British Library in the St Pancras and Somers Town area of north London. The planning application for UKCMRI will be submitted in Spring 2010, following a consultation period with the community and stakeholders. Work is scheduled to begin on the site in early 2011, for completion in late 2014 or early 2015.

Larry Malcic, Director of Design at architects HOK London, said: "Medical research and scientific innovation led the design process for UKCMRI. We wanted a building that would provide the resources necessary for scientists to make life-changing biomedical discoveries at a site that is at the heart of a cluster of medical research expertise in central London. This building complements the local environment and is a state-of-the-art building of the type befitting a globally important project of this stature."

Scientific Vision and Research Strategy

UKCMRI has also released the first details of its proposed Scientific Vision and Research Strategy. The vision summarises how UKCMRI will use inter-disciplinary and innovative approaches to reveal the basic biology underlying the understanding of human health that is necessary to attack the causes of disease and death, including cancer, circulatory disease, infectious disease of the immune and nervous systems, and the multiple degenerative conditions associated with ageing. This strategy explains what is required for UKCMRI to achieve four key goals:

  • Research excellence: Effective multi-disciplinary working requires the substantial critical mass possible at UKCMRI
  • Training and developing future scientific leaders: The unique environment provided by UKCMRI provides an outstanding opportunity to develop a new approach to biomedical scientific training
  • Supporting the nation's biomedical research endeavour: UKCMRI will act as a catalyst to promote better networking, collaboration and fluidity, supporting the biomedical research endeavour throughout the UK
  • Fostering Innovation and Translation: UMCMRI will set a high priority on ensuring that its scientific advances will be speedily exploited for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease

John Cooper, interim CEO, UKCMRI said: "Four of the world's most influential science organisations have joined forces to lead the world in medical research. UKCMRI will pursue vital, ground-breaking research and work with the best scientists to make important discoveries about human disease and health."

Harpal Kumar, CEO, Cancer Research UK said: "We truly believe being part of UKCMRI will help accelerate our goal to beat cancer. UKCMRI will be one of the most important medical research projects anywhere in the world over the next 20 years. We're very excited to be part of this unique partnership. The scale of UKCMRI will enable our scientists to pursue cutting edge research with ambitious objectives."

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, CEO, Medical Research Council said: ''Answering the big questions about how to tackle diseases like cancer, flu and malaria, and exploiting the promise of regenerative medicine, needs bold science. These plans provide excellent facilities for highly skilled people and world-leading technologies. UKCMRI will help strengthen the capacity and infrastructure of the UK research base so the scientific community can respond to the health challenges affecting us today and in the future. UKCMRI will create a home for innovative medical research that will ultimately benefit us all.''

Professor Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "UKCMRI will provide the best facilities for the best scientists to make important discoveries about human health and disease. Scientists working at the centre will have the opportunity to turn fundamental discoveries about mechanisms of disease into new diagnostic, preventative and therapeutic strategies in everyday clinical practice."

Professor Malcolm Grant, UCL President and Provost, said: "Every organisation involved in UKCMRI is a world leader in its field, driven by the aspiration to make advances in medical research that improve and save lives. UKCMRI continues the fantastic history of scientific endeavour in London. Our individual contributions to medical advancement have all been significant. Working together, the contribution made by UKCMRI will be formidable."

- ENDS -



The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) is an unprecedented partnership between four of the world's leading biomedical research organisations: Cancer Research UK, Medical Research Council, University College London and the Wellcome Trust. It will carry out research of the highest quality using the latest technology to advance understanding of human health and disease. UKCMRI will be constructed on 3.6 acres of land at Brill Place, to the north of the British Library in the St Pancras / Somers Town area of north  London. For more information visit

The partners


Cancer Research UK: Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to beat cancer. Cancer Research UK carries out world-class research to improve understanding of the disease and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer. Cancer Research UK ensures that its findings are used to improve the lives of all cancer patients. Cancer Research UK helps people to understand cancer, the progress that is being made and the choices each person can make. Cancer Research UK works in partnership with others to achieve the greatest impact in the global fight against cancer. For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7009 8820 or visit

The Medical Research Council: For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council has improved the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class scientists. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a flourishing environment for internationally recognised research. The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs, including the first antibiotic penicillin, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges of the 21st century.

The Wellcome Trust: The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending around £600 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.

UCL (University College London): UCL is London's leading multi-disciplinary university, with 8000 staff and 20,000 students from 150 countries engaged in world-class teaching and research. UCL is the third-ranked university in the 2009 THES-QS World University Rankings, and the fourth-ranked UK university in the 2009 league table of the top 500 world universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is one of Europe's largest and most productive centres for biomedical science and is ranked second in the world for neuroscience and behaviour, with more than twice as many publications and citations as any other European institution. In 2008 it established UCL Partners, Europe's largest Academic Health Science Centre, with four key partner hospital trusts - Great Ormond Street, Moorfields, the Royal Free and University College Hospital.

For more information, high-resolution images of the designs and further details please contact:

Louise Caldicott
: 020 7395 7078  E:

Liam Turner
: 020 7395 7056  E:

Ed Staite
: 020 7395 7188  E: