13 Apr 2011   |   Network Updates

Imperial: New research alliance expands medical imaging centre collaboration opportunities

The UK research community will soon have access to world-class medical imaging facilities in London with the signing of an agreement today between an alliance of leading London-based universities, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

In a unique partnership, the MRC, Imperial College London, King's College London and UCL become equal shareholders in a newly created joint venture that assumes responsibility for the facilities and operations at GSK’s Clinical Imaging Centre (CIC).

The £47m centre on Imperial College London's Hammersmith Hospital campus has carried out GSK-dedicated research in close collaboration with academic researchers since it opened in 2007. Under the new arrangements, the research and technical expertise of the four partners will help to drive the centre into new areas and applications of imaging.

"This new joint venture creates a framework for collaborative science across academia, pharmaceutical and biotechnology organisations. The three universities, with the MRC, will work in cooperation with GSK to establish the facility as the UK’s leading clinical imaging centre which will play a vital role in accelerating the translation of biomedical research into healthcare and economic benefits," said Dr Jim Hagan, CEO of Global Medical Excellence Cluster (GMEC).

GMEC – a public private partnership dedicated to building the UK's research biomedical research capabilities and enhancing the UK's competitive position - worked closely with the three academic partners and the MRC to develop and deliver this new operating model.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "Throughout these difficult economic times we need to find innovative ways of ensuring UK bioscience maintains its leading edge. This agreement with GSK will enable the MRC to run a world class facility with three top London institutions, giving them access to state of the art equipment and benefitting researchers across academia and industry."

Professor Stephen Smith, Pro Rector for Health at Imperial College London and Chief Executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: "Imperial staff have been benefiting from the excellent facilities at the Clinical Imaging Centre since it opened in 2007, so we’re delighted to be able to expand our research there. The new agreement will allow us to continue to make strides in areas such as neuroscience, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, which should ultimately lead to better treatments for patients. Our new joint venture is a great example of how universities can collaborate with each other and with industry and the NHS to improve healthcare."

Under the terms of agreement, the centre's operations and staff are expected to transfer to the newly formed joint venture in the third quarter of the year. GSK has committed to remain closely involved with the facility and has agreements with the joint venture to support its long-term engagement in drug discovery and imaging research.

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