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Event marks opening of new UCL Cancer Institute

Publication date: Sep 18, 2007 10:40:08 AM

A state-of-the-art new premises accommodating hundreds of cancer research scientists will officially open at UCL (University College London) today. The UCL Cancer Institute, housed in the £40 million Paul O'Gorman building, is situated at the heart of one of the largest and most prolific biomedical facilities in Europe.

The Institute will bring together a significant cohort of cancer specialists under one roof, housing 4,500 square metres of laboratory space over five floors. In all, the Institute will accommodate 350 scientists – half of whom are new recruits to UCL. Its close proximity to key hospitals such as University College Hospital (UCH), as well as other UCL research centres, will promote multi-disciplinary, integrated research.

The opening of the Institute will be marked by a lecture given by the eminent scientist Professor David Baltimore. Professor Baltimore is President Emeritus of the California Institute of Technology, President of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, and a Nobel Prize Winner (Medicine or Physiology, 1975). He will address a large audience on the topic of ‘Cancer Research in the 21st century’.

The Institute was partly funded by generous donations from Children with Leukaemia, The Wolfson Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies. It was designed by world-renowned architects’ firm Grimshaw, who designed the Eden Project and Waterloo International Terminal.

The building design was influenced by its role as a cancer institute and the relationship between science and the study of cancer. It integrates images that have been generated by the processes used in modern medical research – cells, wave patterns and the chromosome can be seen throughout the building’s architecture.

Professor Chris Boshoff, Director of the UCL Cancer Institute, said: “Nearly one in three people will suffer from cancer at some point in their lives and one in four people in the UK die from cancer. Cancer is fast becoming the UK’s biggest killer and research is the key to increasing our understanding of this disease and will lead to ever-more effective treatments and methods for early detection.

“The scientists working at the Institute will have a wide range of research activities, looking at areas such as cancer and ageing, gene therapy, experimental therapeutics and stem cells. We’ll work to promote the translation of basic research discoveries into new strategies to prevent, diagnose, monitor and cure human cancers. We are also already leading a number of international clinical trials.”

Professor Ed Byrne, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, said: “This is a very exciting day for biomedicine at UCL. We have every expectation that the research conducted here will lead to significant advances within the field of cancer research. Many UCL academics have dedicated their careers to studying the causes of cancer and developing treatments for patients. Advances they have made in the last two years alone include the discovery of small molecules (peptides) that can deliver anti-cancer drugs more effectively, as well as demonstrating which drug is most effective in treating post-menopausal women with breast cancer.

“The Institute is an acknowledgement of all that UCL scientists have contributed to cancer research thus far and places UCL amongst the very best in the field. UCL’s Faculty of Biomedical Sciences is world-class and a number of renowned institutes belong to it, including those for neurology, ophthalmology and child health. This Institute will be a hugely important addition to the Faculty.”

Professor Malcolm Grant, UCL President and Provost, added: “UCL researchers have made very significant contributions to the world of cancer research and the establishment of the Institute will build on these successes. UCL has made a £40 million commitment, providing an unparalleled state-of-the-art centre. The Institute is the cornerstone of our new integrated cancer research and development strategy. It demonstrates UCL’s absolute commitment to cancer research and our ambition to make significant contributions to the field that will directly benefit patients.”

-Ends-

Notes to Editors

1. For more information, to obtain high-resolution images, or to arrange an interview with Professor Chris Boshoff, please contact Ruth Metcalfe in the UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9739, mobile: +44 (0)7990 675 947, out of hours: +44 (0)7917 271 364, e-mail: r.metcalfe@ucl.ac.uk

2. For more information about the Cancer Institute, please visit www.ucl.ac.uk/cancer