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Cambridge based laboratory of the future reaches ‘topping out’ stage

A new building for the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge has reached the first major stage of completion, known as ‘topping out’. The new building, due to open in 2012, will provide first class facilities to some of the world’s leading scientists, including neuroscientists, and stands as the flagship building for the extension of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Local MP and Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Andrew Lansley CBE MP, performed the 'topping out' ceremony and Universities and Science Minister the Rt Hon David Willetts MP also attended the event in Cambridge on Friday, 10 September to commemorate this landmark moment in medical research.

The laboratory, being built by BAM Construction Ltd, will cost around £200 million and provide space and facilities for more than 400 researchers. The 'topping out' stage describes the moment in a construction project where the final beam is placed at the highest point of the building. The architects are RMJM.

The Rt Hon Andrew Lansley CBE, Secretary of State for Health and MP for South Cambridgeshire, said:

"Over the last fifty years we have seen MRC researchers make countless discoveries that have had a tangible benefits for the health of millions of people in the UK and worldwide, from the sequencing of DNA to the development of humanised monoclonal antibodies. I am thrilled both as Secretary of State for Health and constituency MP for South Cambridgeshire to see the new MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology building emerge as a unique centre of innovation and a flagship for the newly-extended Cambridge Biomedical Campus."

Cambridge Neuroscientist Dr Michel Goedert, Head of the Division of Neurobiology at the MRC LMB, pictured left, commented:

"The new building represents a tremendous new opportunity for LMB's scientists. It is particularly important for the Division of Neurobiology, currently the smallest of the four Divisions, which is set to expand significantly in the new building. The Division's major strengths are in the study of synaptic mechanisms, neural circuits and neurodegenerative diseases."

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Professor Dame Alison Richard, said:

"The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology is an institution of established brilliance - research from the LMB has had a global impact. Its proximity to the University of Cambridge has encouraged partnership over many decades, which has unquestionably been of enormous importance to the University, and I believe to the LMB as well. I am delighted that space in the LMB's superb new building will house medical researchers from the University of Cambridge, maintaining the close bonds between these two world-leading institutions."

Dr Hugh Pelham, director of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, said:

"It is extremely gratifying to watch the stunning designs take shape and see the potential of the new LMB building realised before our eyes. Our scientists will make the discoveries of the 21st century in this world-class research centre. We look forward to seeing the next generation of pioneering discoveries from the LMB scientists, and helping to promote Cambridge."

A birthplace of modern molecular biology, the LMB is a world-class, multidisciplinary laboratory exploring some of the most complex problems in basic biological science. Since the current laboratory building was opened by the MRC in 1962, the work carried out by LMB scientists has led to numerous awards, including nine Nobel Prizes shared between 13 LMB scientists, leading to the nickname 'The Nobel Prize factory'. Scientists from the institute have founded several very successful biotechnology start-up companies and continue work on translational research to develop new methods of diagnosing diseases and new treatments.

The new LMB building is the flagship development for the newly expanded Cambridge Biomedical Campus - a key component of the strategic growth of the medical and biotechnology sectors in the Cambridge regional economy. The Campus is a cluster of biomedical, clinical, research, treatment and teaching organisations including University of Cambridge, the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust, together with a proposed commercial medipark and the relocation of Papworth Hospital, which will provide an international centre of excellence in biomedical research.

Article by the University of Cambridge Press Office, edited for Cambridge Neuroscience.

Posted on 10/09/2010

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