UCL News


NIMR progress

19 February 2007

The work on the development of the Business Case for the renewed National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) is still on target for presentation to the Council of the Medical Research Council (MRC) at its meeting on 28-29 March 2007.

An options appraisal has been completed, assessing a range of options against agreed benefits criteria. Outline design proposals, based on the agreed options, have been completed, providing the basis for detailed cost and value-for-money analyses, which are currently in train. Costs will be benchmarked against those of other similar capital projects, making clear the separate costs of the MRC-funded and UCL-funded elements of the main building, and the cost of special facilities.

The MRC's vision remains very largely unchanged. The plans for NIMR will:

  • co-locate the renewed NIMR with a world-class university - UCL - and first-class clinical facilities, in order to foster and facilitate collaboration as an essential feature of its expanded translational remit
  • increase scientific innovation in NIMR through new and more diverse links with the physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, social sciences etc
  • pioneer new avenues for achieving translation of ideas, knowledge and techniques into clinical practice and into new products and devices
  • develop best practice, pilot new approaches and make these 'translational highways' available to the wider community.  

The new institute will be embedded in UCL and will constitute a strategic partnership with UCL. It will encompass a range of activities including UCL teams so that it is bigger than the existing institute and more flexible in its future interactions. The institute will have a multidisciplinary configuration and will be a national facility for key stakeholders (industry, NHS, science community) unique in the UK. It will contribute to a world-class training environment, especially for clinician scientists of the future.

Increased emphasis will be placed on how NIMR will contribute to greater commercial translation and UK wealth creation through closer collaborations with the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical devices industries. This is particularly important in the light of the Cooksey Report. For example, the Business Case will specifically address the role that MRC Technology will play in delivering this agenda and its association and possible co-location with the new institute.

Space and facilities will be required for these new collaborative research programmes with industry and two options for achieving this are currently being explored:

  • sale of the Mill Hill site to a commercial developer for use as a science park and centre for collaborative research programmes with industry
  • review of the disposition of space on the National Temperance Hospital site and also on other sites nearby.

Consultations are under way to establish a preliminary assessment of the feasibility of these two options, which are not mutually exclusive, so that a report can be made to Council in parallel with the presentation of the Business Case. This work will complement and strengthen the arguments already being developed in the Business Case.

To find out more about the NIMR use the link at the bottom of this article.