UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Supplementary written evidence submitted by Professor Guy Dodson and Dr Tim Bliss (UKCMRI 16a)

I attach some comments on NIMR staff morale. These comments come from me and Tim Bliss, like me a retired NIMR staff scientist.

For me there are two questions. The first is not usefully addressed at your meeting tomorrow, the second is. Clarification on these issues are key to staff morale. Paul Nurse et al. should be able to provide some answers to question 2.

1.  What do the staff know about the arrangements for their future? How will the quinquennial reviews impact on future planning and decisions?

2.  What are the scientific strategies that will be followed by the UKCMRI and how do they relate to those existing at NIMR and LRI? How will staff from NIMR and LRI be chosen? How will the emphasis on translation be increased?

I write with a colleague, Dr Tim Bliss FRS, who retired as Head of Neurosciences at NIMR in 2006. We wish to emphasise the importance of robust funding arrangements for UKCMRI in order to maintain staff morale. The committee will be pleased to know that the Divisional quinquennial reviews have recently been completed; they confirm that the research continues to be excellent and there is much in these reviews to be pleased with.

The morale of NIMR staff is of critical importance, and although we are now retired from NIMR, we would like to make some comments based on our experience of the Institute. NIMR on its current site offers a superb scientific and working environment that is hugely valued by its staff. Nevertheless, those NIMR staff involved in the development of UKCMRI have shown a full and admirably professional commitment to its planning and design. They are motivated by assurances that UKCMRI will exceed the joint research capacities of the two institutes it will replace (NIMR and the London Research Institute, run by Cancer Research UK). It is essential that the commitment shown by NIMR staff to UKCMRI is matched by equal commitment from the MRC and its partners to guarantee adequate funding for the new Institute.

In this connection it is essential for staff morale that they can have confidence in the scientific strategies at UKCMRI and we wonder if these are known and have been discussed. Secondly it is critical that funding for the NIMR by MRC is going to be properly preserved until the move to central London. The previous MRC CEO undertook to maintain NIMR funding until the move to central London. We assume that this policy will be continued. The MRC cannot afford planning blight at NIMR and such problems as retention and recruitment.

Tim Bliss and Guy Dodson

15 February 2011

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