UKCMRI vision and building designs unveiled

In collaboration with Adfero

The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) has unveiled its vision for the institute, which will be the biggest centre for biomedical research and innovation in Europe.

Founded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London, the institute will represent an unprecedented step in international science leadership.

The institute will tackle the underlying causes of humanity's most challenging health problems, the vision for which was drafted by a panel of leading international scientists, advised by experts from world-renowned institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

Subject to planning permission, construction is due to start on the building in St Pancras and Somers Town in the London borough of Camden in early 2011, with researchers expected to be able to start work in 2015.

Dubbed 'a cathedral for science', the building will allow collaboration between different academic disciplines.

Sir Paul Nurse, chairman of the Scientific Planning Committee, said: "UKCMRI aims to break down the traditional barriers between different research teams within institutes and between disciplines, encouraging biologists, clinician scientists, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists and social scientists to work together to answer questions through their joint endeavour.

"With 1,250 scientists working with an encompassing infrastructure, UKCMRI will provide the critical mass, support and unique environment to tackle difficult research questions."

He noted that design will be "important" to the fulfilment of UKCMRI's vision, explaining that it will create "an inspiring working environment".

David King, from architects HOK, said that the project had been complicated, as the building will need to provide a unique workplace.

"Working very closely with dozens of scientists, we've strived to create a highly sustainable and logistically flexible building," he revealed.

One of the institute's key roles will be to develop world-leading scientists who then go on to lead research in other institutions.

It is expected that the majority of scientists who lead research groups at UKCMRI will become international leaders in their fields.

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "Our single vision shows our joint commitment to beating the diseases that affect the lives of so many people in the UK 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 be translated into better treatments for diseases, including cancer. This collaboration will ultimately bring huge benefits for cancer patients in the future, who will be diagnosed, treated and cured using breakthroughs that will be made at the UKCMRI."