Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Gordon Reid, National Institute for Medical Research

  I am employed as a Higher Scientific Officer at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), where I have worked for 20 years.

  In this time I have contributed to many scientific papers in top class peer reviewed journals.

  I am opposed to the MRC plans as they do not present a convincing case that moving to a central London site will improve the work of the MRC either on scientific grounds or on a financial basis. In fact, it would be to the detriment of NIMR`s science as the animal and NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) facilities would be greatly affected. Other work could be done in a central London location however no benefit arises through such a move and would be at great expense. The MRC would lose the benefit of a great site in Mill Hill. There is room to expand and we have an internationally renowned reputation. We are a scientific centre of excellence and this cannot be achieved overnight but can be easily destroyed.

  Salaries for scientific research are very poor compared to other fields of work especially when the academic requirements are so great. People work hard because we believe in the work. We are driven by an enquiring mind and not personal financial reasons.

  Many of us at NIMR will not still be working (ie retired) or will be on short-term contracts by the time these plans come into effect. Others will not even be working in this country never mind the MRC. Despite this we are strongly opposed to these plans. There cannot be many employers who would have employees so upset over a situation whereby no personal financial or other gain exists. Surely, this verifies our sincerity.

  Millions of pounds spent on moving only 10 miles, without a convincing case for improvement, appear to be a waste of public money.

  The money would be much better spent expanding the present site.

  The following questions come to mind:

    1.  What will be the effect of the proposed move on the MRC-T?

    2.  Is all this consultation bogus: are the MRC's plans financially driven rather than the stated aims of translational research etc?

    3.  Consultation is a two way process, what evidence exists that the MRC have taken on board our concerns?

    4.  Is there a hidden agenda agreed with government that a sale of the Mill Hill site would provide a new housing development on a brown field site?

    5.  What evidence exists that translational research can be done better in a University/Hospital campus? There are many instances whereby this is not the case.

    6.  The MRC already has units/centres in university/hospital sites why do they also need NIMR on such a site?

    7.  Animal rights protesters have a presence every Wednesday at the Mill Hill site. Would relocation to a central London site exacerbate this due to increased numbers of people and resulting higher profile protests?

    8.  What plans do the MRC have for the Mill Hill site and is this a factor on the plans for the future of NIMR?

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