Memorandum from Professor Richard Flavell,
former member of the Task Force on the NIMR
I was until recently a member of the task force
charged with making recommendations to MRC council on the future
of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) currently
at Mill Hill. The conclusions of this task force have been made
public and it's not necessary for me to expand on those here.
I would however, like to take the opportunity of providing you
some feedback. The main issue that the Task Force did not address
is what should be done in the absence of a successful viable outcome
in the search for a central London site for the renewed NIMR.
I, as with the majority of the Task Force Members, favoured at
the time and continue to favour a central London location for
NIMR providing that a number of difficulties including cost, governance,
security both for animal research and researchers and placement
of high level containment facilities for potentially dangerous
microorganisms in the middle of a major city can be solved.
A key feature of the recommendation made by
the Task Force was that the central London options should offer
realisable advantages over the current site as modified and improved
to bring the site up to modern standards. This is obviously sensible;
there is little point to moving an institute to another location
incurring great cost to end up with an inferior result. If however
the proposed move were not to yield a superior result, then I
and I believe several other colleagues on the Task Force (who
should speak for themselves) favour maintenance of NIMR on its
Mill Hill site. From my knowledge of translational research at
Yale, and from what I know of the facilities and culture at NIMR,
I am confident that NIMR can meet the task force's and MRC's vision
for biomedical research on the Mill Hill site. I further recommend
that this option be considered as part of due process in order
to reach the most soundly reasoned decision on this topic which
is most important for the future of British biomedical science.
As a previous member of the Task Force I would be happy to assist
in any reasonable way with your deliberations of this process
as I've made clear to MRC Council.
The Task Force worked long and hard to make
the best recommendations it could to MRC council within the very
taxing time constraints of the process. I am pleased that you
have initiated this review process and I believe that this is
the right thing to have done. I wish you all success with this
and remain in the meantime, with best wishes.
12 November 2004