Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Professor P M Biggs

  I find the proposal to move the Institute to a central London hospital site and reduction in size hard to understand. This view comes from collaborations over a number of years in the past and admiration for the achievements of the Institute and the major contributions the staff of the Institute have made and continue to make to medical science. I have known the Institute for over 40 years and over that period it has consistently been a major contributor to and icon for many areas of medical research.

  Firstly the translocation. There are several aspects to this recommendation. A major move of this magnitude will seriously disrupt research programmes and destroy teams. I have personal experience of the consequences of a move of this kind and its results. Over the period of several years required to rebuild at the new site and organise the move, morale will become affected, some staff will look elsewhere for employment and recruitment will be difficult. A proportion of senior staff and many support staff will choose not to move. What will the move achieve? Supposedly closer interaction with clinical services, but this already occurs with many hospitals in London. Most collaborations come from the will to do so and leadership, not the physical closeness of those concerned. Secondly, the reduction in size. I must confess that I do not understand this recommendation since the output and quality of the Institute cannot be criticised. I wonder whether those making the recommendation understand the effectiveness of research institutes. They have the great asset over universities of being able to set up multidisciplinary teams, to take a long term view of research and more effectively provide the support services and equipment required for the programmes. This reduction in size would in my view result in an overall reduction in the contribution the MRC makes to the advancement of medical science.

16 November 2004

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