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Opening of MRC institute building heralds new ‘team science’ era

The Princess Royal has officially opened the Medical Research Council’s new £120m state-of-the-art Laboratory of Medical Sciences (LMS) building on Imperial College London Hammersmith campus.

The institute’s new home is a striking eight-storey building clad in anodised aluminium and houses 400 scientists working across themes including: genes and the environment; heart and metabolic disease; and sex-based differences in disease. The institute is hosted by Imperial College London and is one of only two laboratories in the UK wholly funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The new building was designed to amplify the institute’s core strength of bridging the gap between scientists exploring fundamental biological mechanisms and those translating that work into clinical applications.

LMS director Professor Wiebke Arlt, who was appointed in January 2023, takes a bold new approach to research by championing challenge-lead team science. Unlike the individualistic ‘hero science’ of the past, the team science approach builds dynamic collaborations around specific biomedical challenges co-designed with a range of stakeholders including scientists, clinicians, patients, and the public.

While team science has been advocated by other organisations, this is the first time it has been enshrined in a research strategy for a core-funded UK government institute, turning the traditional approach to research on its head.

Professor Wiebke Arlt, Director of MRC LMS, said: “We are delighted to welcome The Princess Royal to MRC LMS. Our new building’s design fosters an environment highly suited to team science that transcends disciplinary boundaries, bringing together clinical and non-clinical scientists in a shared space designed for collaboration, training and mentorship. By actively welcoming people from our local community, organising public lectures and participating in community events, the laboratory is also fostering collaboration beyond its walls. We will continue to build bridges between our scientists and the public, enabling a better understanding of complex issues.”

During the opening, The Princess Royal was shown around some of the key facilities in the new institute. They included the ‘fly lab’, where researchers are exploring the factors underpinning ageing and metabolism, and how these translate to human health and disease.

Funded by MRC with significant investment from Imperial College London the new building is situated on the Hammersmith hospital site of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. The close proximity to the rapidly expanding Imperial White City Innovation Campus further ensures that this strategic alliance will translate scientific discoveries into medical breakthroughs, innovative technologies and economic impact.

The LMS was first conceived in 1959 and opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1970 when it was located at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow.

 

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