£76 million research centre to make the UK a global centre of excellence for clinical imaging

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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Imperial College London today announce a unique research collaboration in medical imaging. GSK will contribute funding of £28m for the construction of a new Clinical Imaging Centre, next to Hammersmith Hospital in West London, UK. Research will focus on cancer, stroke, neurological diseases such as Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis and psychiatric diseases. In association with the Clinical Imaging Centre, GSK and Imperial have entered into a 10-year research agreement for medical imaging.

The GSK Clinical Imaging Centre will use and advance the latest technologies in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). GSK will invest a further £16 million in the latest PET and MRI imaging equipment. The Imaging Centre will be part of a new £60m research development by Imperial College, on the former Burlington Danes school site adjoining Hammersmith Hospital, to be completed by 2006.

Imperial's Hammersmith campus was selected for the new development as it is already home to a considerable concentration of imaging expertise and many of the world's leading experts in imaging technology. The land has been made available by the Charity Trustees of Hammersmith Hospitals who acquired the site in 1999. Existing expertise includes staff from the Medical Research Council's Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College London, and the Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust. In addition Hammersmith Hospital has long been at the forefront of clinical trials. The new development will build on this strong foundation to create a global centre of medical imaging excellence.

The agreement is one of the world's largest industry-university collaborations in financial terms, and will very substantially increase the research base in medical imaging in the UK. The UK Government welcomed the investment in UK science. Lord Sainsbury Minister for Science and Innovation said: "The new clinical imaging centre is great news for the UK. The centre will carry out vital research into devastating diseases such as Parkinson's. The investment by GlaxoSmithKline and Imperial College highlights the strength of the science base in this country, and the quality of medical research at Hammersmith Hospital."

Imaging technology such as PET provides scientists with a 'window' to look at the real-time chemical processes in human organs such as the brain, the heart and lungs, revealing the immediate changes that medicines can make. Imaging data can help speed up drug discovery and development by providing information about what is happening at a molecular level in the body.

Dr Tachi Yamada, Chairman of Research and Development at GlaxoSmithKline, said: "New imaging technology can provide early and accurate information about how medicines work in people, yet the need to harness this new technology to drug development efforts has outpaced current capacity. Our investment in this new clinical imaging centre further demonstrates GSK's continued commitment to medical research in the UK and will go a long way toward providing the tools we need to advance promising medicines more quickly."

Sir Richard Sykes, Rector of Imperial College London, remarked: "This is a fantastic opportunity for both Imperial and GlaxoSmithKline, and is one of the largest industrial investments made by a pharmaceutical company in a UK university. This collaboration brings together the research heritage, skills and expertise of a diverse group of scientists with a huge investment in new technology. With the increased financial pressures on all academic institutions and the recent recommendations of the Lambert review on university-industry interaction this investment is particularly timely, and will further strengthen Imperial's ability to conduct world-class science."

In addition to the research centre, the development site will also include affordable housing for over 300 health workers, provided by the Charity Trustees for Hammersmith Hospitals' partner Thames Valley Housing Association. There will also be jobs created in the new centre with around 400 researchers and support staff working there, around half of these being new positions.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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