Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Dr Peter J M Openshaw, Imperial College London

  1.  The present and future prosperity of the United Kingdom is based on its intellectual, technical and scientific strengths. This has given rise to many scientific achievements which have helped develop modern medical practice, a significant number of these have been contributed by NIMR, with five Nobel Prize winners. The closure of NIMR would basically be an opportunity for reducing funding of biomedical science at a time when there has never been a greater need for such an institution.

  2.  It is vital that London, the capital city, has a world-class institute devoted to medical research, acting as a focus for academic collaborations.

  3.  Fragmentation of the expertise at Mill Hill leaves the field of infectious diseases vulnerable to expected and unexpected events. With the emergence of pubic health threats such as HIV, SARS and bird influenza, it is essential that we have a world-class institute with excellent and comprehensive animal facilities and containment laboratories designed for category 3 and 4 pathogens. Recreation of these facilities in central London or elsewhere would be illogical, expensive and wasteful.

  I am not convinced that the option to keep Mill Hill open has been properly evaluated and its potential impact on UK biomedical research assessed.

12 November 2004

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