By Max Clarke

The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) has received a further boost following Government approval of the Medical Research Council’s business case for the institute.

UKCMRI will be one of the most significant developments in UK biomedical science for a generation. The institute will foster collaboration with other centres of excellence and bring this country’s best physical, biomedical and clinical scientists together. This will help ensure that advances in biomedical sciences are translated swiftly and effectively into benefits for patients and the economy.

The Government has also ‘earmarked’ funding to improve facilities for storing and accessing the rapidly increasing amount of bio-molecular research data that is expected to be used in the development of future treatments. By earmarking these funds, the Government considers the project is ready to progress to detailed appraisal.

The European Life-Science Infrastructure for Biological Information (ELIXIR) project would significantly increase the quality and quantity of information readily available to researchers in genomics and systems biology and ensure it is catalogued and stored in a standardised format, building on the UK’s leading international standing. This is subject to approval of the business case and funding.
Today the Prime Minister is meeting the Council for Science and Technology (CST) at Downing Street. The CST is the UK Prime Minister’s top-level advisory body on science and technology policy issues.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“The UK’s science and research sector is world class and one that we can be very proud of.

“A strong research base is absolutely crucial to help secure long term economic growth, helping to rebalance the economy and creating the jobs of the future, which is why despite some tough spending decisions we have protected its funding.

“We have some of the best scientists, excellent facilities and cutting edge technology, and it is our determination that we do all that we can to ensure the UK remains one of the world leaders in this field for many years to come.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“The UK life sciences industry is an important growth sector, employing over 130,000 people and generating a turnover of over £30 billion last year.

“We need to do everything we can to encourage both companies and researchers to come and work in the UK on a range of important projects aimed at improving our quality of life, which will in turn boost economic growth.”
Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:
“Here in UK we have some of the world’s top biomedical scientists, but to make the most of this we need to ensure we have the very best facilities.

“I am delighted that we are one step closer to the development of UKCMRI. This exciting new institute will bring the best scientific talent together to understand the biology underlying human health and find ways to prevent and treat the most significant diseases affecting people today.”

Planning permission for UKCMRI was granted by the London Borough of Camden in December, and it has received approval from the Mayor of London. Construction of UKCMRI is expected to start in May once all processes associated with planning permission are completed.