Two more leading universities plan to join scientific powerhouse

13 April 2011

 

View from St Pancras station at night.

View from St Pancras station at night.
© Cityscape

 

Imperial College London and King's College London are set to join the partners behind the world-leading medical research institute: the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI). UKCMRI's goal is to understand how living things work and to use that knowledge for the benefit of humanity.

It will find ways to prevent and treat diseases affecting people today - including cancers, heart disease and stroke, infectious diseases including influenza, tuberculosis and malaria, disorders of the immune system, and neurodegeneration. The pioneering laboratories will become a world class facility for medical research with 1,500 staff, strengthening the UK's reputation as a centre for excellence for medical science and helping to maintain the country's competitiveness in science and healthcare.

The institute is being built within the exceptional cluster of biomedical research already carried out in London. It will bring together biologists, chemists, physicists, engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians with some of the UK's leading hospitals to focus in new ways on understanding the underlying causes of health and disease. UKCMRI's neighbours include the British Library and St Pancras International at Somers Town in north London.

Imperial and King's have each signed a Memorandum of Understanding expressing their intent to join the existing partners which include four of the world's leading medical research organisations: the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and UCL (University College London). Imperial and King's would each contribute £40 million to the development of the new institute to match the contribution from the founding academic partner UCL.

Researchers from the academic partners will work with scientists from two of the founders' research institutes, the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute (LRI) who have been deeply involved in designing the new laboratories.

The additional funding will enable UKCMRI to do even more, more quickly than would otherwise have been the case. The costs of construction have not changed.

Sir Paul Nurse, the Director and Chief Executive of UKCMRI, said the addition of two more London Russell Group universities would add enormous value: "The involvement of Imperial and King's in the UKCMRI partnership offers the institute even greater scale and breadth of knowledge. It helps to enhance the opportunities for connections, creativity and discovery. This institute will not only carry out the highest quality biomedical research, it will also act to support the entire research endeavour in the UK."

Sir David Cooksey, chairman of UKCMRI added: "The UK is home to some of the world's best scientists. Our existing and new partners' record of achievement is extraordinary; they have nurtured and supported some of the most important discoveries in medicine and steered them into practical use.  The addition of Imperial and King's will broaden the interdisciplinary capability of the partnership which presents an unmatched opportunity to tackle some of the most intractable research questions, bring patient benefit and induce great benefits to the UK's economy.  Their desire to join the UKCMRI partnership is great news."

Professor Malcolm Grant, UCL President and Provost, said: "We warmly welcome Imperial and King's to the fold and regard this as a valuable development. As the founding academic partner we have worked hard in developing UKCMRI from the outset, and we are keen now to widen academic participation to make the most of the huge investment of time, ideas and money that we and our partners have already committed to it. Scientific collaboration across a broad base will be essential to the mission and purpose of UKCMRI and the involvement of other universities is truly welcome. We look forward to developing a strong operational partnership as the underpinning to a truly national institute."

Professor Sir Richard Trainor, Principal of King's College London said: "King's is delighted to have reached this milestone in negotiating its participation in UKCMRI. Having such a strong pool of experts working collaboratively under one roof in this world-leading facility for medical research and innovation has the potential to deliver real advances in science and health research. This very much chimes with King's mission of serving society on a global level.

"In pursuit of this broad objective King's can bring to bear its biomedical and other health science expertise, its emphasis on using basic and applied research to generate innovations at the bedside and its use of psychological, psychiatric and social scientific skills to improve the well-being as well as the physical health of patients."

Professor Sir Keith O'Nions, Rector of Imperial College London, said: "We are extremely pleased to be embarking on this new venture, which provides an unparalleled opportunity to advance British research into life sciences and biomedicine under the expert scientific guidance of Sir Paul Nurse.

"Imperial has a long and excellent record of translating world-leading medical research into new treatments and therapies. At UKCMRI, we hope that our expertise in physical sciences and bioengineering will help uncover more about the biological causes of good health and ill health, with the ultimate aim of improving everyone's wellbeing and preventing disease.

"Alongside the improvements in health that we hope UKCMRI will help bring about, we are also enthusiastic about the research hub's potential to generate wealth for the UK. We know that research and innovation contributes hugely to the country's finances and in difficult economic times, it is more important than ever that institutions like ours work together to boost the productivity of UK PLC."

Notes to editors

For more information on the project visit Contact: press@ukcmri.ac.uk or call 0800 0286 731.

Key facts:

  • In July 2010, the Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse, was appointed Director and Chief Executive Officer of UKCMRI from January 2011
  • London Borough of Camden's planning committee approved plans for UKCMRI in December 2010
  • Building work will begin on site in late spring 2011
  • There is a two year build programme followed by two years' fit-out and commissioning
  • UKCMRI will begin operations at Brill Place in late Spring 2015

About Imperial College London:
Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included 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, tackle climate change, develop sustainable sources of energy and address security challenges.

In 2007, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust formed the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre. This unique partnership aims to improve the quality of life of patients and populations by taking new discoveries and translating them into new therapies as quickly as possible.

About King's College London:
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2010 QS international world rankings), The Sunday Times 'University of the Year 2010/11' and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, it has nearly 23,500 students (of whom nearly 9,000 are graduate students) from 140 countries and approximately 6,000 employees.

King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine, nursing and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.

King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) - a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. www.kcl.ac.uk

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

Building on research excellence:
UKCMRI will initially build on the complementary skills and research interests of two of the founders' research institutes, the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute (LRI), together with UCL scientists focusing on physics, computing, engineering, imaging and chemistry.

  • NIMR is renowned for its research in a diverse range of fields, including developmental and stem cell biology, structural biology, neuroscience, immunology and infectious disease. Its 600 scientific staff are based in laboratories in north London at Mill Hill. NIMR's director is Jim Smith.
  • LRI has an international reputation for basic cancer biology research, focusing on cell regulation and signalling, tumour and tissue biology, and genomic integrity. Directed by Richard Treisman, LRI has some 500 scientists working at laboratories at Lincoln's Inn Fields, central London and Clare Hall, Hertfordshire.

In addition to funding the cost of building UKCMRI, the founders will provide ongoing research support to the institute. Wellcome Trust support will fund interdisciplinary research spanning biology, chemistry, physics, maths and engineering.

Capital Investment in UKCMRI:

The Medical Research Council will contribute £300 million.

Cancer Research UK is investing £160 million.

The Wellcome Trust is contributing £120 million.

Currently, UCL is investing £46 million.

UCL's overall contribution will fall to £40m when King's and Imperial formally join UKCMRI.

 













  • Imperial and King's have each signed a Memorandum of Understanding expressing their intent to join UKCMRI
  • The existing partners include four of the world's leading medical research organisations: the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and UCL (University College London)
  • In July 2010, the Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse, was appointed Director and Chief Executive Officer of UKCMRI from January 2011