HRH opens flagship research Centre10 Jan 2007, PR 02/07 HRH The Princess Royal was welcomed to the Denmark Hill Campus by Sir Graeme Davies, Vice Chancellor of the University of London, Professor Rick Trainor, Principal of King's College London, and Baroness Rawlings, Chairman of Council. The Chancellor was then introduced to the Nobel Laureate Sir James Black, Emeritus Professor of Analytical Pharmacology at King's, after whom the Centre has been named, Lady Black, Mr Michael Parker, Chairman of King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and King's Professors Jack Price, Ajay Shah, Anne Greenough and Peter McGuffin.
Following a short speech by the Principal and presentations by Professors Ajay Shah and Jack Price on the main areas of work to be undertaken at the Centre, the tour moved to the new building itself. The Chancellor was shown around the laboratories, technical facilities and office areas, along the way seeing poster presentations which further outlined the groundbreaking research at the Centre. The tour culminated in the Chancellor unveiling a plaque for the new building.
The James Black Centre is a unique, state-of-the-art facility, bringing together more than 200 scientists researching a number of diseases. There will be a major focus on stem cell science across these areas.
Research into cardiovascular disease, led by Professor Ajay Shah and Professor Qingbo Xu, will look in particular at the molecular mechanisms that determine heart failure and stem cell research into atherosclerosis. Work on sickle cell disease and b thalassaemia, under Professor Swee Lay Thein, will explore cellular mechanisms of sickle cell and potential clinical trials for new therapies.
The Centre will also enable scientists from King's Institute of Psychiatry to increase research programmes in neuroscience. This group, led by Professor Jack Price, will look at neurodegenerative conditions such as stroke, Parkinson's and Batten's Disease and psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia.
Professor Jack Price commented, ‘The new facilities and laboratory spaces at the Centre have given us a unique chance to double our efforts in the field of neuroscience. Our team can now focus more on molecular and behavioural neuroscience, neural stem cells and the neurobiology of mental health, exploring the cellular basis of some of the most devastating neurological and psychiatric conditions affecting the population.'
The Centre has been funded by a number of donors, including: the Government's Science Research Investment Fund (SRIF), the King's Medical Research Trust, King's College Hospital Charitable Trust and the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director, British Heart Foundation, who attended the opening, said, ‘The British Heart Foundation is delighted to have contributed significantly to funding this new research building. It provides state of the art facilities where research teams led by two BHF professors can interact with other world-leading medical scientists to tackle heart disease, the UK's biggest killer.'
The Principal of King's College London, Professor Rick Trainor, said of the new Centre, ‘We are very proud to open formally this flagship building at our Denmark Hill Campus. It represents a tremendous opportunity to bring together clinical and non-clinical scientists in a wide range of disease areas. Their research programmes, many of which include stem cell science, will make a major contribution towards understanding and treating some of the world's most debilitating conditions. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of King's staff, who have worked so hard developing the research strategy for the new Centre as well as those who have coordinated the construction of the building. I'd also like to thank our numerous donors, including the British Heart Foundation, our partner NHS Trusts and their associated charities, whose generosity has helped to make our vision a reality.'
Notes to editors
Sir James Black OM, Emeritus Professor of Analytical Pharmacology at King's, received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1988 for the development of two major families of drugs: firstly, beta-blockers, used for the treatment of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and heart failure, and secondly the anti-ulcer histamine receptor blocking drugs, including the best-selling Tagamet.
King's College London
King's College London is the fourth oldest university in England with more than 13,700 undergraduates and nearly 5,600 graduate students in nine schools of study based at five London campuses. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UK's major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, international relations, medicine, nursing and the sciences, and has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe and is home to four Medical Research Council Centres, more than any other university.
King's is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of more than £100 million, and has an annual turnover of more than £363 million.
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