Major UK research partnership investment fund award to complete Centre for Translational and Interdisciplinary Research at Dundee

12th October, 2012

The University of Dundee has been awarded almost £12 million through the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) to complete the Centre for Translational and Interdisciplinary Research project.

The award is a major boost to the biomedical sciences in Scotland. It will enhance capacity at the College of Life Sciences in four key areas, including drug discovery - an area in which Dundee already excels and that brings patient benefit by translating fundamental science into new medicines for unmet medical needs.

UKRPIF was launched by the UK Government at Budget 2012 to support University capital projects. To access the fund, universities must demonstrate scientific excellence, innovation and the ability to match the UKRPIF support with twice the co-investment from private companies or charities.

The co-funders of the CTIR, who are providing in excess of £26 million, include The Wellcome Trust, GlaxoSmithKline, Medicines for Malaria Venture, TPP Global Development Ltd and Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed).

This UKRPIF and private/charity sector co-investment of £38 million will synergise with over £12.5 million of prior investment in the CTIR by The University of Dundee, The Wellcome-Wolfson Capital Award Programme, The Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, the Biological and Biotechnology Research Council and several local charitable Trusts. The latter include, the Binks, Leng, Lethendy, Margaret Murdoch, Tay and Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trusts.

"We have an excellent track record at Dundee of attracting investment from charities and business - particularly the pharmaceutical industry - and using it to deliver innovation and opportunity," said Professor Michael Ferguson, Dean of Research in the College of Life Sciences. "I would like to pay tribute to all my colleagues, and their research teams, who have secured the match-funding that enabled us to obtain this UKRPIF award. It will greatly enhance and accelerate our ability to improve healthcare and contribute to the local and national economies. "

An independent evaluation of previous Government investment in research capital has shown how successful this type of funding can be in accelerating private sector investment in UK university research infrastructure. It cited as a direct example the University of Dundee, where an £8m investment attracted £23m from the major pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GSK, Merck-Serono and Pfizer.

Around 180 new research jobs in Life Sciences will be added once the CTIR is fully occupied, joining the 1000-plus scientists, research students and support staff from 62 countries already working in the College of Life Sciences in Dundee. Construction work is scheduled to finish in autumn 2013.

Professor Pete Downes, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee, said, "This funding confirms the great strengths we have in Biomedicine in Dundee and Scotland. It will help create world-class capability and infrastructure for interdisciplinary work bringing together basic science, drug discovery, health informatics and mathematics.

"We have tremendous expertise across these disciplines and by harnessing them and working together we can have a transformational impact in science and health. This is also, of course, a very notable boost to economic development of the life sciences sector within Scotland."

The CTIR project involves the creation and equipping of a 5200 m2 addition to the College of Life Sciences and the refurbishment of 500 m2 of adjacent space that will:

•Double the size and capacity of the Drug Discovery Unit, a translational engine that adds considerable value to bioscience discoveries through small molecule drug discovery.
•Juxtapose Mathematical Biology, Theoretical Physics, Bioinformatics, Data Analysis and Software Development to generate innovative thinking and tackle systems-level problems relating to biology, drug discovery and medical informatics.
•Create a Centre for Quantitative Proteomics integrating expertise in cell biology, mass spectrometry, proteomics, "big-data" analytics and computer science to exploit the potential of the human genome project for healthcare and the development of safer drugs.
•Create an in-house biotech spin-out "pre-incubator", where fledgling spin-out companies can be nurtured before reaching critical mass and spinning-out completely.
"The project provides an exciting opportunity to bring different disciplines together, allowing contributions of scientists from a number of different fields, each bringing their expertise to bear on aspects of the larger, systems-level problems relating to biology and drug discovery and drug design," said Professor Ferguson

The front facade of the building will feature large anodised aluminium cladding panels incorporating artistic abstractions representative of 4 key scales of Life Science Research: Molecular, Organellar, Cellular and Tissue. The scientific images will be translated into artwork, to be perforated onto the panels, by Professor Elaine Shemilt and her team from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. In addition, the new Centre will contain a gallery for art-science projects.


For media enquiries contact:
Roddy Isles
Head, Press Office
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
TEL: 01382 384910
MOBILE: 07800 581902
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