Rosalind Franklin Institute, Novel Biological Imaging Technologies, UK

The Rosalind Franklin Institute, a new research institute dedicated to developing novel technologies to tackle important health research challenges has officially opened.

Based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, the modern £43 million building was opened on 29 September and will house the Franklin team and the state-of-the-art biological imaging technologies being developed by the institute.

Professor James Naismith, Director of the Institute, said:

“This is a proud day for the Franklin. The work we do here will provide major factor-of-ten leaps in our ability to see and understand life. These technologies will be a huge asset for the UK, and this building is the perfect home for them.”

The Rosalind Franklin Institute will bring together physical science and engineering researchers creating disruptive new technologies to speed up the discovery of new medicines, help find new diagnostics, forward microbial and plant science and contribute to a deeper understanding of human health and disease.

The new building was funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and built by the Science and Technology Facility Council (STFC), working with Mace.

The building was officially opened by Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, along with delegates from industry and academia, including Nobel Prize winner Richard Henderson.

Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, EPSRC Executive Chair said:

“By connecting physical sciences and engineering to the life sciences, we have the ability to develop new innovations to enhance our understanding of life. The opening of the Rosalind Franklin Institute will help us to tackle health research challenges and enable the UK to make leaps in life sciences innovation which would otherwise be inaccessible.”

Novel imaging technologies in microscopy, chemistry, structural biology and AI

The Franklin was founded by ten leading UK Universities in 2018, with £103 million funding from the UK Government. Technologies developed to date with the funding include novel imaging technologies in microscopy, chemistry, structural biology and AI.

The world-first time-resolved electron microscopes, technology for imaging cells in 3D at atomic resolution, chemical tools for protein modification and labelling, and mass spectrometry equipment with unrivalled sensitivity for tissue imaging, have been engineered thanks to the Franklin.

Dr Judy Kim, Deputy Director of the Correlated Imaging Theme said:

“The environments we require for our work are incredibly demanding – there are very few places where you can develop instruments with new technology like this. Having a bespoke building which encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration will make sure we develop new methods to tackle the most crucial problems.”

The institute has also helped fight COVID-19, with work in member laboratories turning to the pandemic. The new building will continue this work, enabling further research on covid therapeutics and diagnostics, and also working in preparedness against the next pandemic.


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