20 Apr 2011   |   News   |   Update from University College London
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London universities take on running of Glaxo’s £47M medical imaging centre

As GlaxoSmithKline backs off, the UK Medical Research Council and three universities take on responsibility for centre

A leading medical imaging centre owned by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and based at Imperial College London is to transfer into part public ownership, with the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), Imperial College, King’s College and University College London becoming equal shareholders in a joint venture that assumes responsibility for the facilities and operations of the centre.

The centre - built at a cost of £47 million - has carried out GlaxoSmithKline research only since opening on Imperial’s Hammersmith Hospital campus in 2007. Under the new joint venture arrangements it will now be available for use by academic researchers, with the four partners extending the areas and applications of the imaging carried out there.

The agreement is further evidence of the industry shifting towards a more open model of working, according to Patrick Vallance, Head of Medicines Discovery and Development at GSK. “Combining the knowledge and expertise that each party brings to the new centre will foster innovation in this exciting area of research, and the industry as a whole stands to benefit from these new imaging opportunities.”

John Savill, Chief Executive of the MRC said, “The MRC is delighted to be involved in this exciting new collaboration in translational medicine, bringing together three world class universities and GSK to provide researchers across the UK with an outstanding opportunity to understand disease and therapy non-invasively.”

This new joint venture will create a framework for collaborative science across academia, pharmaceutical and biotechnology organisations, says Jim Hagan, CEO of GSK’s Global Medical Excellence Cluster. “The three universities, with the MRC, will work in cooperation with GSK to establish the facility as the UK’s leading clinical imaging centre.”

David Willetts, UK Minister for Universities and Science was not putting such a gloss on things, saying that in difficult economic times there is a 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.”

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 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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