UCL News


Strategy for Francis Crick Institute unveiled at topping out ceremony

6 June 2013

Sir Paul Nurse, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, unveiled the organisation's strategy today at a ceremony attended by senior government ministers and heads of the institute's founding partners, including UCL's President & Provost Professor Malcolm Grant.

Crick topping out event

The announcement coincided with the topping out ceremony for the institute, a key milestone in the construction process which sees the building reach its highest point. The facility will open in London in 2015.

The Crick will be a new and distinctive medical research institute. It will carry out discovery biomedical research to help better understand why disease develops and to find new ways to diagnose, prevent and treat a range of illnesses - such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, infections and neurodegenerative diseases. 

The institute will bring together outstanding scientists from all disciplines, carrying out research that will help improve the health and quality of people's lives, and will also keep the UK at the forefront of medical innovation.

The Crick is a landmark partnership between the UK's three largest funders of biomedical research: the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust, and three of its leading universities: UCL, Imperial College London and King's College London. This exceptional cooperation will enable the Crick to tackle major scientific problems and generate solutions to the emerging health challenges of the 21st century.

UCL is committed to realising the Crick's strategy and the tremendous opportunity it presents. We will draw on our strengths in interdisciplinary collaboration and partnership working to maximise the impact of the new Institute and reveal opportunities for research, education and enterprise.

Professor Sir John Tooke, UCL Vice-Provost (Health)

Sir Paul Nurse said: "From the outset, the Francis Crick Institute has been an unprecedented collaboration between the UK's leading medical research organisations, academic institutions and industry. As we mark this important milestone in the construction of the institute, I wanted to clearly set out the Crick's strategic priorities, as well as high level directions for the science that will be conducted.

"Our uncompromising commitment to excellence, our emphasis on multi-disciplinary research, our focus on young and emerging talent, our novel ways of partnership working, and our plans to export our best people to other institutions across the UK, are some of the factors that will set the Crick apart."

Professor Sir John Tooke, UCL Vice-Provost (Health) said: "UCL is committed to realising the Crick's strategy and the tremendous opportunity it presents. We will draw on our strengths in interdisciplinary collaboration and partnership working to maximise the impact of the new Institute and reveal opportunities for research, education and enterprise.

"Together with our world-class partner hospitals we will drive the translation of the fundamental insights into disease mechanisms the Crick will reveal for the benefit of the population."

The Crick's strategic priorities are to:

  • Pursue discovery without boundaries

We will support creative and ambitious research that addresses important questions of human biology. We will build on the high quality science from the two parent institutes - Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute (LRI) and the MRC National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and work with our three university founders to integrate knowledge from the clinical and physical sciences.

  • Create future science leaders

The Crick's career structure will be unusual, with the majority of group leaders remaining at the institute for no more than 12 years before being supported to find scientific leadership positions elsewhere in the UK. This process will help the Crick to fulfil its national role by expanding the talent pool for biomedical science across the UK. It will also allow the introduction of fresh knowledge and ideas to drive the development and renewal of our scientific programmes through continual new recruitment.

  • Collaborate creatively to advance UK science and innovation

We want to ensure that we work effectively with our university partners and our other collaborators across the UK, creating an open and permeable institute that can act as a focal point for scientific interaction and networking across the UK and beyond.

  • Accelerate translation for health and wealth

This will focus on maximising the value that can be generated from the Crick's discovery science, measured in terms of improvements in the lives of people in the UK and internationally, and in new economic opportunities. We want to make translatable science an integral and highly valued facet of the institute's culture, and develop effective partnerships with industry and the NHS.

  • Engage and inspire the public

The Crick's size, location and profile will make us highly visible and able to play an important role in generating excitement and interest in science, particularly through our engagement and outreach activity with schools. We also have an opportunity to help promote health and wellbeing in the local area and across the country.

Speaking at the event, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "The Francis Crick Institute will be the jewel in the crown of UK medical research. Not only will it provide cutting edge facilities and develop world-class talent, but it will encourage collaboration between different disciplines, undoubtedly leading to scientific breakthroughs. It will keep Britain ahead in the global race to find innovative new treatments, benefitting patients and driving growth."

Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "The Francis Crick Institute will be game-changing for medical research. Millions of people - including cancer patients, but also those suffering from a range of diseases such as heart and neurodegenerative disease - will benefit from its pioneering approaches. Scientists will work together across many different areas to make rapid progress in our understanding of these diseases, which will help us to treat them more effectively in the future. The Crick is also a unique opportunity for people to invest in one of the most exciting catalysts of scientific innovation we'll see in this generation."

Dr Ted Bianco, Acting Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "The Francis Crick Institute highlights what makes medical research in Britain so strong: significant funding from both the government and charities, emerging and established talent from leading institutions, and opportunities for discoveries to be translated rapidly into new treatments through the NHS. Its scientific strategy should ensure that is capitalises on all of these factors and quickly establishes itself as one of our most innovative and world-leading new research centres."

The Crick's striking new building, designed by architects HOK with PLP Architecture, and constructed by Laing O'Rourke, the UK's largest private engineering and construction company, will house 1,500 leading researchers and support staff.


Image caption: Profesor Malcolm Grant and the Rt. Hon. George Osborne at the Francis Crick Institute topping out ceremony

Media contact: David Weston