MRC laboratory launch brings science into the spotlight
Jan 25 2024
The Princess Royal took the opportunity for ‘hands on’ experience during the celebratory launch of the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences (LMS) building on Imperial College London’s Hammersmith campus, (Jan 24) which she officially opened and toured, meeting researchers and gaining some insights into their work.
The new £120 million eight-storey building, housing 400 scientists working across themes including genes and the environment, heart and metabolic disease and sex-based differences in disease, has an open design that will reinforce and further encourage the Institute’s core strength of connectivity and exchange between scientists exploring fundamental biological mechanisms and those translating that work into clinical applications.
As one of only two laboratories in the UK wholly-funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the building project itself also received the Construction Excellence Award 2023 (South-East) for collaboration and integration.
LMS director Professor Wiebke Arlt, who was appointed in January 2023, takes a bold new approach to research by championing challenge-lead team science: “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.
“Our researchers also actively visit our local communities and schools to share our research, demonstrating the LMS’ societal impact through education and engagement, she added.”
During her tour, the Princess Royal visited key facilities including the ‘fly lab’, where researchers are exploring the factors underpinning ageing and metabolism and how these translate to human health and disease; and the cardiac imaging facility which uses AI tools detect signs of ageing in the heart that are invisible to the human eye.
She also visited the laboratory of Professor David Rueda where researchers are using video game technology to stretch a single strand of DNA to explore how tension and coiling affect our genes, providing insights into the impacts of new gene editing techniques such as CRISPR.
Patrick Chinnery, Executive Chair of MRC said: “We are honoured and deeply grateful to HRH Princess Royal for inaugurating the new home of the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences.Today’s event builds upon a unique legacy, as the Princess Royal also opened the lab’s first building in 1995. Her continued support for the MRC, for science and especially championing women in STEM is truly valued.”
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