UKCMRI founders sign agreement to establish institute

09 November 2010

The consortium behind the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) has formally agreed to build the new institute at St Pancras and Somers Town in the London Borough of Camden.

The Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, Wellcome Trust and UCL (University College London) have signed an agreement to set up UKCMRI as a charitable foundation subject to the agreement of the Charity Commission.

When he set out the Government's National Infrastructure Plan in October, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, identified UKCMRI as a key part of the country's future economic development.  The plan followed confirmation of the Government's share of funding in the Spending Review. Describing scientific research as "vital to our future economic success", the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced Government funding subject to approval of the MRC's full business case.

The £600 million Centre will prevent and cure disease, create jobs and harness a sector of the economy in which the UK is a world leader. It will investigate fundamental biological processes underlying human health, and will study diseases that affect people across the UK, including cancers, heart disease and stroke, infections, diseases of the immune and nervous systems and the degenerative conditions linked to ageing.

The Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts MP, said: "I am delighted to be present at the signing of the Joint Venture Agreement for UKCMRI.  This will be crucial for British biomedical research in the future.  The four partners will create a world class centre with a mix of expertise and critical mass to capture cutting-edge science for the benefit of patients."

Health Minister Lord Howe said: "As a Government, we want to deliver health outcomes that are amongst the best in the world.  When resources are under pressure, research is even more important in identifying innovative ways of preventing, diagnosing, and treating disease for a productive 21st century NHS. We know that investment in UK science research and its translation to the NHS is key to our future health and our future prosperity. This is why we will be increasing spending on health research in real terms over the Spending Review and providing £220 million of capital funding for UKCMRI."

Sir Paul Nurse, the Director and Chief Executive designate of UKCMRI, said: "In the very difficult current economic climate, UKCMRI represents an important investment in medical research in the UK. Its location within a cluster of some of the world's leading hospitals and biomedical research institutions will help to accelerate the translation of research discoveries into treatments for the benefit of the UK."

Sir David Cooksey, the Chairman of UKCMRI, said: "The signing of this agreement is an important milestone in this exciting project. The ongoing support for UKCMRI from the founders will enable the institute to tackle disease and understand health.  This partnership will help to keep the UK at the forefront of innovation; it will attract high value investment, strengthen the economy and improve people's lives."

The Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council, Sir John Savill, said: "UKCMRI is a key priority for the Medical Research Council. I am delighted that cross-departmental support has enabled us to take this important step towards the creation of a new research institute that will tackle the major health challenges facing us today, and provide an environment to enable researchers to respond quickly to new health problems as they arise. UKCMRI will create a home for innovative medical research that will ultimately benefit us all."

Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, added: "This is a major step towards our single vision and joint commitment to beat the diseases, including cancer, that affect the lives of so many people in the UK and across the world each year. By working together, UKCMRI scientists will produce cutting-edge research and help the UK keep its place as a world-leader in scientific innovation. Crucially, these advances will ultimately bring huge benefits for cancer patients, who will be diagnosed, treated and cured based on discoveries made at UKCMRI."

Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "The UK is a world leader in medical research. UKCMRI will be a key component of the national scientific infrastructure by providing an exceptional environment for medical research and the application of that research for health and economic benefit. It will be a major training environment for future generations of leading medical researchers. This is an exciting development for UK science."

Professor Malcolm Grant, President and Provost of UCL, said: "The signing today is an important milestone for UKCMRI and it is a testament to the national and international significance of the project that we have reached this stage in difficult economic conditions. We at UCL are extremely pleased that the government has confirmed its financial contribution to the project, allowing the founding partners to make this formal commitment to funding today."

UKCMRI will bring together staff currently working at the MRC's National Institute for Medical Research and Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute with researchers from UCL.  The institute will house scientists from a range of disciplines including biologists, chemists, physicists, engineers and computer experts to promote novel ways of working. 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 Development Control Committee at the London Borough of Camden will consider the planning application for the building on 16 December.

Notes to editors:

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact UKCMRI on 0800 028 6731 or via email: info@ukcmri.ac.uk.

The UKCMRI consortium

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. For more information visit www.ukcmri.ac.uk.

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.

  • UKCMRI will house 1,500 staff including 1,250 scientists
  • The planning application will be considered by London Borough of Camden on 16 December
  • The institute is planned to be built on 3.6 acres of land adjacent to St Pancras International to the north of the British Library