Scientists from Imperial College London will be playing a major role in a new research institute funded by the UK Government.
The Rosalind Franklin Institute (RFI) is a new investment by the government to develop a multi-disciplinary science and technology research centre. It will bring together the UK’s strengths in physical sciences, engineering and life sciences to create a national centre of excellence in technology development and innovation.
The Rosalind Franklin Institute will bring together engineers, physical scientists and researchers in medicine to work alongside one another for the benefit of people across the globe.
– Professor Nick Jennings
The RFI is named in honour of Rosalind Franklin, the pioneering British scientist whose use of X-rays to study biological structures played a crucial role in the discovery of DNA’s ‘double-helix’ structure, alongside the work of Nobel laureates Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins.
The RFI will be managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council with its main ‘hub’ based at Harwell in Oxfordshire, led by the University of Oxford.
Alongside Imperial, other academic partners include the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Manchester, King’s College London and University College London. It will also draw on the R&D expertise from leading pharmaceutical and life sciences companies and from global manufacturers in scientific instrumentation.
Initially, research at the facility will focus on the development of next-generation imaging methods, including ways of imaging in real-time molecular processes and chemical reactions – which is the equivalent of moving from photography to video. RFI researchers will also be developing new chemical methods and strategies for developing better drug therapies.
The College’s lead academic will be Professor Elaine Holmes, Department of Surgery & Cancer, and the RFI will draw on the expertise of scientists from across Imperial. Examples of some of some of the research areas at Imperial that the RFI will be drawing on include the College’s expertise in translational medicine, its strong collaborations in X-ray and laser technology research, and work on the interaction of genes and the environment (called phenomics) at the MRC-NIHR National Phenome Centre.
Professor Nick Jennings, Vice-Provost (Research) at Imperial, said: “The Rosalind Franklin Institute will bring together engineers, physical scientists and researchers in medicine to work alongside one another for the benefit of people across the globe. Work at the RFI will lead to improved understanding of diseases, a speedier discovery of new treatments for chronic conditions, more diverse employment opportunities for the UK, and economic growth. Imperial is a proud to be a partner in this effort and we look forward to helping the RFI become one of the world’s great engines of scientific knowledge and advancement.”
Rt. Hon. Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, added: “The UK has an extensive history of pioneering discoveries and developing new technologies and medical treatments. It’s why we made science and research a central part of our industrial strategy to strengthen links between research and industry, ensuring more home-grown innovation continues to benefit millions around the world.
“Named after one of the UK’s leading chemists, the Rosalind Franklin Institute will inspire and house scientists who could be responsible for the next great discovery that will maintain the UK’s position at the forefront of global science for years to come.”
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