[Press & Publications] Government Report Points to 'World-Class' Achievements

March 2000

No 50

Biotechnology research at the University of Leicester has been flagged up in a new Government report.

The publication by the Department of Trade and Industry highlights the enormous importance and potential of work being done in universities and cites the University of Leicester as an example.

In Genome Valley : the economic potential and strategic importance of biotechnology in the UK, the work of Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys on DNA fingerprinting probes is described as a "major breakthrough". The technique of genetic fingerprinting was discovered by Sir Alec at the University of Leicester and has revolutionised crime detection throughout the world.

In addition, the University's range of research bases in biotechnology are listed among public centres of research excellence, showing their high scoring results in the 1996 research assessment exercise conducted by the Funding Council.

The six University of Leicester research groups listed include (with research ratings where applicable) : Pharmacology (5*), Biochemistry (5), Genetics (5), the MRC Toxicology Unit, Microbial Pathogenicity, and Botany and Zoology.

The University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Burgess said: "It is gratifying to see the University of Leicester's record of research excellence reflected in this important publication.

"The University of Leicester is world renowned for the discovery of DNA genetic fingerprinting and the University remains at the cutting edge of developments in a range of disciplines that impact on biotechnology. For example, scientists at Leicester are examining the medical benefits that arise from pioneering space research."

The report states: "Biotechnology has the potential to improve quality of life in both the developed and developing worlds, as well as offering economic potential. Many people see it as the next revolution, following the IT revolution."

The report describes the world-class biological science and clinical research groups as being among the UK strengths in biotechnology.


  • Industrial sectors which can benefit from biotechnology are pharmaceuticals, agriculture, food and drink, chemicals and environmental technologies
  • These employ over 1.75 million people
  • They account for 10% of UK GDP
  • Bioscience research in universities is one of the UK's great strengths
  • The UK has some 270 specialist biotechnology companies
  • The UK currently leads Europe in biotechnology.

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    Last updated: 10 March 2000 16:50
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