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The Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research (WIBR) was established as an Institute within UCL for the pursuit of excellence in biomedical research in the post-genomic era. Modern biology has blurred the borders between traditional disciplines, so that the approaches towards unraveling the complexities of conditions as varied as cancer, degenerative diseases and atherosclerosis are now similar and rely on the same technologies of cell and molecular biology. For this reason, the WIBR is not a specialist Institute for any particular area of research but provides an environment where groups with widely different interests can synergise in the quest for greater understanding of the mechanisms of disease. Thus we are attempting to move away from a reductionist approach towards more integrated science.

We have also set up a Medicinal Chemistry laboratory since we are convinced that biological research is greatly strengthened by this facility. In addition, some of the probes that are made for biological mechanisms may be the prototypes for future medicines. This interface between biology and chemistry has created the opportunity to take the results of scientific research towards their application. We therefore have a business development unit which is responsible for identifying research amenable to development into practical endpoints. This has led to the formation of spin-out companies, the future success of which might become a source of significant revenue. This will be directed into the long-term support of the Institute, including the funding of its fundamental research and, if successful, will benefit the wider UCL.

The WIBR is well-provided with a wide range of the latest equipment and techniques. Many of these facilities and areas of expertise are communal, allowing each group access to more than it could justify or afford individually. As part of UCL, the Institute belongs to one of the highest-quality research bases in biomedicine in Europe. We aim to foster as much interaction as possible between research groups at the WIBR, UCL and beyond, so that novel scientific approaches and ways of thinking can develop.

The Institute now comprises more than 200 scientists, many of international standing. It has a modern infrastructure and a highly interactive and friendly environment. We have a budget of approximately £10m per annum which comes from both grants and industry. Since we moved into the Cruciform Building and I am pleased to say that we have achieved some significant goals.

Salvador Moncada


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