London will soon boast the largest biomedical laboratory in Europe…
Written by: Abbie Curd.
Art by: Winnie Lei.
Nobel Laureate Francis Crick was one of the greatest scientists the world has ever seen. His discovery of the structure of DNA, along with James Watson, changed the field of biology forever. Bearing his name is one of London’s most influential medical research institutes, which aims to continue this legacy of astounding scientific discovery.
Crick’s openness to new ideas and collaboration has clearly inspired the design of the institute’s new building. The open floor plan encourages scientists with different expertise to work together, and the few separate offices dotted around are purposely small to encourage people to get out and join forces. The building is also intelligently designed, with floors split into ‘quadrants’ and colour-coded for each research group. Routes with non-carpeted floors connect the different labs so samples can be safely transported between them, and a contemporary design delivers an enjoyable and non-claustrophobic work environment.
The glistening new building has brought together teams from 6 influential organisations and universities, including Cancer Research UK and UCL. This hub of incredible knowledge has enabled the formation of new alliances, in fields from infectious disease to synthetic biology. The institute believes that concentrating great minds in one building will accelerate the application of science in ways that will benefit society. A researcher based at the institute, Charles Swanton, recently won the GlaxoSmithKline Award for his work on tumour heterogeneity and cancer evolution, showing that adaptation and growth of tumours fits the principles of Darwin’s evolution. In the future, his findings will likely be used to create better therapies for cancer patients.
The new site for the Francis Crick Institute suggests a promising future for high-calibre biomedical research like this, which may be able tackle diseases increasingly affecting our generation. It provides an ingenious workspace that will hopefully continue to attract the greatest scientific minds for many years to come. Francis Crick would surely be proud of this endeavour.