Imperial College to build £99m health science centre in London

13 May 2009

A new £99 million facility dedicated to finding new ways of treating people with serious health problems, including heart and circulatory diseases, is being built in West London.

The new six-storey building is due to be in use from December 2011 and it will form a key part of the Academic Health Science Centre, which is a unique partnership between Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust that aims to bring new therapies and treatments to patients much more quickly than ever before.

Over 450 world-class researchers and clinicians from the College and the Trust will be working together in the new facility to develop better therapies for conditions such as heart failure, artery disease, arthritis, diabetes and obesity. The development will be partly funded by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.

The project will be the largest construction contract ever placed by Imperial College London. The Rector of the College, Sir Roy Anderson, said at the start of the demolition of old buildings on the site: “The part of the campus that we are standing in today is going to look very different in a few years’ time. These old out-dated blocks will be gone and in their place we will have a new building specifically designed to encourage the translation of research findings into benefits for patients. It will enable us to bring a critical mass of scientists, clinicians and patients under one roof, focusing on major health challenges in many areas and in particular cardiovascular medicine.

“I am very proud that Imperial has led the way in bringing the concept of the Academic Health Science Centre to the UK. It is a very different approach to university-hospital partnerships in this country. At its heart is the desire to sweep away the barriers between the two and move exciting new medical findings quickly from the laboratory to the hospital ward. Our new facility will play a key part in this,” added Sir Roy.

Lord Tugendhat, Chairman of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: "This new facility represents one of the largest investments in translational research in Europe. It will house hundreds of scientists and clinicians working together to tackle some of the most serious health challenges we face, including heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and obesity. Our unique partnership will pave the way for new discoveries and treatments to be translated into better patient care and outcomes quicker than ever before."

The new building will include:

  • one of Europe’s largest heart research facilities: the building will contain one of the largest cardiovascular research facilities in Europe and will provide the headquarters for the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence at Imperial. Three hundred cardiovascular scientists and physicians will occupy three floors of laboratories and offices, exploring areas including how to harness stem cells to combat heart attacks and heart failure. Heart and circulatory disease is the leading cause of death in the UK.
  • new clinical research facility: the ground floor of the new building will be devoted to a new Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility. Here, patients from the adjacent hospital facilities at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and beyond, and healthy volunteers, will take part in studies to better understand disease processes and develop and evaluate new treatments for health problems including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurological and psychiatric conditions;
  • new scanning equipment to explore how therapies and diseases are working: researchers will use a new imaging unit on the lower ground floor of the building to scan patients and volunteers, to explore how effective different therapies are and to analyse how different diseases are working in the body. This Translational Medicine Imaging Unit will include a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner and a positron emission tomography (PET) CT scanner; and
  • genetics of conditions including arthritis, diabetes and obesity: on another floor, experts from the Medical Research Council Clinical Sciences Centre will be looking at the genetic variations involved in conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and obesity, in order to explore new ways of preventing and treating these conditions.

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