The University of Dundee has been awarded close to £12 million through the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) to complete the Centre for Translational and Interdisciplinary Research project.
The award is a major boost to the biomedical sciences in Scotland. It will enhance capacity at the College of Life Sciences in four key areas, including drug discovery - an area in which Dundee already excels and that brings patient benefit by translating fundamental science into new medicines for unmet medical needs.
UKRPIF was launched by the UK Government at Budget 2012 to support University capital projects. To access the fund, universities must demonstrate scientific excellence, innovation and the ability to match the UKRPIF support with twice the co-investment from private companies or charities.The co-funders, who are providing in excess of £26 million, include The Wellcome Trust, GlaxoSmithKline, Medicines for Malaria Venture, TPP Global Development Ltd and Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed). This UKRPIF and private/charity sector co-investment of £38 million will synergise with over £12.5 million of prior investment in the CTIR by The University of Dundee, The Wellcome-Wolfson Capital Award Programme, The Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, the Biological and Biotechnology Research Council and several local charitable Trusts. The latter include, the Binks, Leng, Lethendy, Margaret Murdoch, Tay and Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trusts.
“We have an excellent track record at Dundee of attracting investment from charities and business – including the pharmaceutical industry - and using it to deliver innovation and opportunity,” said Professor Michael Ferguson, Dean of Research in the College of Life Sciences. “I would like to pay tribute to all the colleagues, and their research teams, who have secured the match-funding that enabled us to obtain this UKRPIF award. This includes Daan van Aalten, Geoff Barton, Julian Blow, Mark Chaplain, Alan Fairlamb, Ian Gilbert, David Gray, Andrew Hopkins, Angus Lamond, Irene Leigh, Tim Newman, Irwin McLean, Kevin Read, Jason Swedlow and Paul Wyatt. I'd also like to thank Dr Morag Martin for tirelessly preparing the successful UKRPIF bid.”
An independent evaluation of previous Government investment in research capital has shown how successful this type of funding can be in accelerating private sector investment in UK university research infrastructure. It cited as a direct example the University of Dundee where, referring to the DSTT success of Sir Philip Cohen, Dario Alessi and Pete Downes, an £8m investment attracted £23m from the major pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GSK, Merck-Serono and Pfizer.
Around 180 new research jobs in Life Sciences will be added once the CTIR is fully occupied, joining the 1000-plus scientists, research students and support staff from 62 countries already working in the College of Life Sciences in Dundee. Construction work is scheduled to finish in autumn 2013.
Professor Pete Downes, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee, said, “This funding confirms the great strengths we have in Biomedicine in Dundee and Scotland. It will help create world-class capability and infrastructure for interdisciplinary work bringing together basic science, drug discovery, health informatics and mathematics.
“We have tremendous expertise across these disciplines and by harnessing them and working together we can have a transformational impact in science and health. This is also, of course, a very notable boost to economic development of the life sciences sector within Scotland.”
The CTIR project involves the creation and equipping of a 5200 m2 addition to the College of Life Sciences and the refurbishment of 500 m2 of adjacent space that will:
- Double the size and capacity of the Drug Discovery Unit, a translational engine that adds considerable value to bioscience discoveries through small molecule drug discovery.
- Juxtapose Mathematical Biology, Theoretical Physics, Bioinformatics, Data Analysis and Software Development to generate innovative thinking and tackle systems-level problems relating to biology, drug discovery and medical informatics.
- Create a Centre for Quantitative Proteomics integrating expertise in cell biology, mass spectrometry, proteomics, “big-data” analytics and computer science to exploit the potential of the human genome project for healthcare and the development of safer drugs.
- Create an in-house biotech spin-out “pre-incubator”, where fledgling spin-out companies can be nurtured before reaching critical mass and spinning-out completely.
“The project provides an exciting opportunity to bring different disciplines together, allowing contributions of scientists from a number of different fields, each bringing their expertise to bear on aspects of the larger, systems-level problems relating to biology and drug discovery and drug design,” said Professor Ferguson
The front facade of the building will feature large anodised aluminium cladding panels incorporating artistic abstractions representative of 4 key scales of Life Science Research: Molecular, Organellar, Cellular and Tissue. The scientific images will be translated into artwork, to be perforated onto the panels, by Professor Elaine Shemilt and her team from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. In addition, the new Centre will contain a gallery for art-science projects.