Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Jacky Smith, Head Technician in Developmental Biology and Molecular Neurobiology, National Institute for Medical Research

  I first came to the National Institute for Medical Research in September 1967 as a very raw school leaver. Apart from a couple of sojourns to other MRC units, I have been here since. I was shocked and saddened to hear the plan to relocate NIMR to central London as I feel that the site here at Mill Hill is very well suited for our scientific needs and it would be hard to better the facilities elsewhere.

  I have seen many changes over the last 37 years, most of which have been for the better and I do feel that the building has evolved well to keep up with the necessary changes in science. Of course, we have a wonderful site here in Mill Hill and it would be not so pleasant to have to travel into London, but the major problem which I have is that it seems the new location would be change for change's sake. Any new building (whether it was in London or Aberdeen) would take a long time to begin to work properly and a move would destroy the very cohesive community which we have here. My own experiences as a Head Technician here have shown that my work and the smooth running of our departments would not proceed so well without this "community spirit".

  The other major worry is that, as yet, we have no real idea of the size of the new NIMR and so, Professor Blakemore's "exciting vision of the future" is for me an unknown quantity. Our animal facility, here in Mill Hill, is superb and as this would be hard to construct elsewhere, work would be drastically slowed down until the new facility was "up and running".

  In summary, I feel that an upgrading of our present site would be infinitely preferable to a new venue elsewhere. If, however, NIMR could be moved in its entirety to a new building, which would greatly improve the already excellent science which goes on here, then it would be hard to argue against such a move. Evidence, so far, does not, in my opinion, support this.

28 October 2004

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