Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Professor Moncada, Wolfson Institute

  1.  The idea to move the NIMR to a central London university hospital location and emphasise its activities towards translational research is excellent if, we define translational activities as those that take the results of research from the bench into clinical practice.

  2.  A great deal of research activity in the post-genomic era is related to the identification of biologically significant proteins, their interactions in the generation of biological activities (ie molecular physiology) and their malfunction (molecular pathophysiology). The direct corollary of these activities is the investigation of ways in which those interactions can be modified to develop new therapeutic tools. In this sense it is almost impossible to separate what is fundamental from what is applied research, a separation of activities which has been fashionable until recently. In this context it is not self-evident, and has never been true in practice, that the thinking about practical endpoints decreases the quality of scientific research.

  3.  An example of this is our own Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research at University College London in which basic and applied aspects coexist in a synergistic environment in which medicinal chemistry complements biological research. Chemicals made to probe molecular mechanisms are likely to be candidates for future drug prototypes. All this could be carried out very close to, or within, a hospital environment to increase the efficiency of the movement from the generation of knowledge to its application.

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Prepared 8 February 2005