Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Professor Dame Louise Johnson, University of Oxford

  1.  I should like to submit some views in connection with the proposal to move the National Institute for Medical Research from its present site at Mill Hill to a site closer to one of the London Hospitals.

  2.  While I can see the advantage in promoting translational research by placing research laboratories close to clnical sites, the proposed move appears not to take into account the success of the current research on its present site and is likely to be a costly disruption.

  3.  My field of expertise is structural biology and I can only speak with authority on this area. The laboratories at NIMR, Mill Hill are doing excellent research in this area with a special emphasis on signal transduction mechanisms that are important for understanding cell growth and differentiation with implications for cancer research. The structural biology programme also has special relevance to the programmes at Mill Hill on malaria, tuberculosis, influenza and HIV. There has been splendid interactions between structural biology and the other Departments and it is hard to see how these can be sustained if the research laboratories are to be fragmented.

  4.  In recent years the NIMR has been rated first class in the five yearly reviews. Its publication record (according to an independent survey) placed it among the highest record in the UK. I hope the results of this survey are available to the Committee . I should be pleased to forward if needed.

  5.  In discusions with staff at NIMR I have been impressed with their unanimous view that their best research can be done in the present environment at the NIMR Mill Hill site. This is a view that has my warm support.

23 November 2004

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