Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Professor Brian D Sykes, University of Alberta

  It is clear to me that Mill Hill is an absolute first rate biomedical research institution with an excellent research program and an excellent scientific reputation world wide. I have collaborated with scientists in Mill Hill for more than two decades, and consider these collaborations amongst the highlights of my scientific career. Under these circumstances, I would be very, very cautious about the drastic changes that are proposed in size, location, and scope of the Institute unless the rationale is absolutely justified. It takes many years to build up excellence in scientific projects, people, infrastructure, and collaborations; but only moments and one bad decision to put it apart. Even the uncertainty surrounding the committee's activities strongly perturb the activities of such an institution. There is a strong role for autonomous government-supported research institutes within the mix of international scientific endeavor.

  Personally I see no scientific reasons for moving the site to another hospital site in London—they already have extensive interactions and collaborations with the major London Hospitals. I'm not sure why administrators are so willing to make these kinds of decisions these days, as if one can mandate excellence and success. In my experience when people start to mingle at these levels in the affairs of an institute of this size the result is always a loss.

11 November 2004

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