University of Dundee

Scotland to get National Life Sciences Institute

07 May 2008

Scotland's position as an international leader in the biotechnology field is to be strengthened further with the creation of a £10 million national life sciences institute in Dundee, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong learning Fiona Hyslop said today.

The planned Scottish Institute for Cell Signalling will link with Dundee University's existing College of Life Sciences to create the strongest research complex of its kind in Europe. It will create 40 jobs initially, become a new engine for the city's economy and help drive forward Scotland's £1 billion life sciences sector.

The Institute will concentrate on an emerging area of 'cell signalling', which has great potential for the development of drugs to treat cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis

Speaking as she visited Dundee University, Ms Hyslop said:

"Driving forward Scotland's economic growth is at the heart of everything that we do.

"We already have an excellent reputation internationally for our research, and especially for our performance in the field of life sciences.

"Dundee in particular is an international centre of excellence for this kind of work, with 16 per cent of its workers involved in or supporting the sector.

"To take this on to a new level, we need a new centre, equipped and managed to the highest standards, to attract outstanding international scientists and most promising young researchers to Scotland.

"This national Institute will deliver that."

"At the same time, Scottish Enterprise will work with the Institute to ensure that we maximise the commercial outputs from research carried out at the Institute, so that all of Scotland can share in its success. "

Sir Philip Cohen, Director of the new Institute, said:

“The initial aim of the Institute is to build up new strengths in an emerging area of cell signalling, called `protein ubiquitination’ which we believe will become the next major area of drug discovery.

“By setting up a Protein Ubiquitination Unit now, we will be in a strong position to exploit the future promise of this area.

“The College of Life Sciences at Dundee has already played a key role in developing other areas of cell signalling such as protein phosphorylation, which has led to major spin-offs through the critical mass of leading researchers and technology that we have gathered here.

“Our pre-eminence in this field was instrumental in the creation of the biotechnology company Upstate Inc. in 1999, which now employs around 100 people in Dundee, and also enabled us to establish the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy, a collaboration with six of the world’s major pharmaceutical companies which has attracted £40 million in funding, secured another 50 jobs and become a model for how collaborations between Academia and Industry should work.

“We have an outstanding track record here in Dundee in carrying out ground-breaking research on cell signalling and we expect that SCILLS will build on that.”

The priorities for the Institute are to:

• Recruit world-class scientists to Scotland.

• Train a new generation of scientific leaders and provide the skilled researchers and technologists needed for the Scottish biotechnology industry.

• Provide timely access to cutting edge technologies needed for Scotland to compete effectively on the world stage.

• Pioneer new drug discovery initiatives and translational research.

• Support the ongoing development of the Scottish biotech and pharmaceutical sectors.