Plans for a unique, £500-million medical research partnership have moved up a gear after the government agreed to sell a plot of land next to the British Library and Eurostar terminal at St Pancreas for the centre to be built on.

The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) in London will be established through a partnership between the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, The Wellcome Trust and University College London, and aims to offer a world-class base for scientists to undertake “cutting-edge research using the latest technology to advance our understanding of health and disease”, the MRC said.

Further explaining the vision for the Centre, John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said it would be “a place where scientists, clinicians and experts from different fields and organisations could collaborate and share ideas and experience,” and that is will “boost a key sector of the UK's knowledge economy, create jobs, encourage close collaboration between scientists and clinicians and lead to improved human health”.

The Centre is expected to open its doors by the end of 2013, and will bring together the capabilities of the partner organisations to advance scientific understanding to foster the development of new therapies to fight major diseases such as meningitis, tuberculosis, cancers, stroke, heart disease and diabetes.

Changing lives
“We strongly support plans to create Europe’s leading Centre for medical research in the heart of London”, added Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “It will maintain Britain’s position at the forefront of global medical research, strengthen the UK economy and, through its links with the NHS, has huge potential to change patients’ lives.”

“By taking groundbreaking scientific discoveries right through to treatment, I expect that the 1,500 staff who will be part of this project will develop many of the cures, vaccines and drugs from which the NHS and its patients will benefit in years to come”, he concluded.