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UK'S World-leading Clinical Imaging Centre opened by GlaxoSmithKline, Imperial College London, Medical Research Council

GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) new Clinical Imaging Centre (CIC) was officially opened today by the Right Honourable Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The new centre represents an investment of over £50 million and is a pioneering collaboration between industry, academia and public sector.

Commenting on the collaboration and state-of-the-art facility, Mr Darling said: "This new centre is right at the forefront of the fight against some of the major diseases in the world. It means a world leading facility based here in the UK bringing the best of industry and academia together backed by the Government. It will give researchers what they need to enhance our reputation as a world leader in science, research and putting great ideas into practice, speeding up the process to deliver the new medicines that patients need."

GSK's CIC is a unique venture undertaken by GSK, Imperial College London and the Medical Research Council - the largest new imaging centre in Europe dedicated to development and application of imaging techniques for clinical research. The collaboration will combine the expertise and knowledge each partner has developed in the use of imaging technologies and will apply it to the development of new medicines across a broad range of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and psychiatric and neurological disorders. One of the world's largest industry-university-government collaborations, the CIC will create a globally-recognised centre of expertise in West London and substantially increase the entire research base in medical imaging in the UK.

"GSK's investment in this state-of-the-art research facility reflects the positive environment for science and innovation in the UK. The science we conduct here will transform the lives of patients in the UK and around the world. It is important to us, and to the UK, that the environment remains supportive" said Dr Moncef Slaoui, Chairman, GlaxoSmithKline Research & Development. "This facility will allow GSK to partner with Imperial College and the MRC to create a world-class scientific collaboration, utilising the latest advancements in imaging to better understand diseases and how to treat them."

Sir Richard Sykes, Rector of Imperial College London, said, "This centre is a prime example of what can be achieved when universities, government and industry work side by side. It enables us to translate our scientific advances into improving patient care as quickly as possible. By combining the expertise of leaders in imaging technology and giving them access to the very latest equipment, we can advance our understanding of diseases that affect millions of people."

The CIC building, which is adjacent to the Hammersmith Hospital site of Imperial College London, was carefully selected for the new development as it is already home to many of the world's leading experts in imaging technology.

"The CIC is located at the heart of a clinical research centre comprising the MRC's Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College and Hammersmith Hospital and will benefit from the dynamism which prevails there," said Professor Colin Blakemore, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council. "It has been an eagerly awaited addition to the site, providing substantial additional resources to a group of clinicians and scientists buzzing with ideas on how to make the most of such equipment and facilities both academically and to the benefit of patients. Imaging is allowing us to go further than many of us had imagined possible in understanding how the human body works and is an area which will greatly inform therapeutic interventions and drug development in the years to come."

Modern imaging technology provides a 'window' through which to study in fine detail both disease processes and the action of potential medicines in human organs such as the brain, heart and lungs - disease-associated changes in glucose metabolism, for example, or the affinity of the drug for its target. Its sensitivity allows molecular interactions to be probed.

Backed by a 10 year commitment by GSK to invest £11 million a year in this centre, the CIC will use and advance the latest technologies in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). Its facilities include an advanced radiochemistry development facility, two MRI machines and two PET scanners which give the unit the capacity to conduct up to 2500 scans annually. Built over 3 floors it will be staffed by almost 80 clinical, scientific and support staff, plus an additional eight Research Fellows from Imperial College.

The whole Burlington Danes centre, which encompasses the GSK CIC, ICL and MRC facilities, will eventually employ around 400 researchers and support staff. Around half of these will be new positions. In addition to the research centre, the completed development will include affordable housing for over 300 health workers, provided by the Charity Trustees for Hammersmith Hospital's partner Thames Valley Housing Association.

Laura Gallagher | alfa
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