[Press and Public Relations] University of Leicester Announces £31 Million Expansion and Improvement Programme



October 2001

No 136a

EMBARGO UNTIL: 00.01 OCTOBER 4, 2001

The University of Leicester has announced a £25 million expansion plan creating two new buildings which will house centres of excellence in biomedical research, space science and mathematics.

Coupled with this development is £6 million for refurbishment programmes, the creation of new laboratories and the purchase of new equipment that will advance the University's standing in areas such as heart research, green technology, archaeology and chemistry.

The development has been made possible through two separate streams of funding which have dovetailed to allow the University to build for the future.

The University has received £10 million from the biomedical research charity the Wellcome Trust that will contribute towards the planned new biomedical sciences research building.

The University also received £10 million from the Government's Science Research Investment Fund (SRIF) in partnership with the Wellcome Trust, to renew science infrastructure. The University of Leicester received the 17th highest award in the country.

The total will be used to:

  • Build a biomedical research building
  • Erect an extension to the Space Research Centre to house, principally, the Mathematical Modelling Centre and provide additional accommodation for space science activity, including providing a new Clean Room
  • Create additional space for Archaeology
  • Redistribute Chemistry accommodation
  • Create laboratories for Green Technology
  • Provide equipment for Cardiovascular Research
  • Equip new laboratories for biological sciences and psychology
  • Work on all projects is scheduled for completion during the 2003/4 academic year and will involve the University putting in place its own funding arrangements as well as seeking funding from outside parties.

    Former Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor John Beeby said the University would be putting £4.5 million - from the SRIF funding - towards the building of the Biomedical Research centre that would 'top-up' the maximum funds made available by the Wellcome Trust. The remainder of the £20 million cost of the Biomedical Research Centre would be met from other sources.

    Professor Beeby said the remaining SRIF money - £5.5m - would pay for the new building adjoining the Space Research Centre and other improvements on campus. He said: "This welcome investment by the Government and the Wellcome Trust in science research will help universities improve their science infrastructure. The combined total of £20 million allocated to the University of Leicester will allow us to keep our research in science, medicine and engineering at the forefront of the world.

    "This cash injection will assist our laboratories to compete with those abroad, for example in the US, Germany and France by helping to up-date facilities and allowing Leicester to remain at the cutting edge of developments. It will lead to the development of two new buildings for the University, adding to our growing international reputation for teaching and research."

    Wellcome Trust Director Mike Dexter said: "Universities are the bedrock of UK scientific discovery, particularly in the biomedical field. But scientific research facilities in our universities became so run down over decades that there was a real danger of the country losing its scientific edge in the world.

    "Big thinking and big money was required. The Wellcome Trust pressed for a major investment to modernise research facilities and we put our money where our mouth was, investing £525 million over several years."

    David Blunkett said: “A world-class research base requires world-class equipment and buildings. Science and technology research is an increasingly competitive field. We need to provide our talented university researchers with the facilities they require. This money shows our commitment to give universities the resources they need.”

    NEW CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE PLANNED FOR UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER

    BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES BUILDING

    The plans, which are now well advanced, are for a £20 million building. The proposed new building will house research groups in:

  • Cardiovascular Science: Carrying out heart research with the aim of improving knowledge and treatments of various conditions.
  • Structural Biology: Studying enzymes and cell signalling proteins, among other processes, which impact on health.
  • Cell Signalling: Examining cell signalling processes and receptors in neurones which are a major therapeutic target for the treatment of many diseases.
  • Neuroscience: Analysing information transmission in the brain in order to gain greater understanding of the nervous system function and dysfunction.
  • Human Genetics: Studying human disease susceptibility genes. The building is designed for 250 researchers - 175 PhD students and post-doctoral fellows.
  • Professor Beeby added: "Our medical research and teaching provides direct benefits to the people of the region and beyond and we anticipate that this proposal will bring much valued expertise to bear upon fields of critical importance to human health."

    ADDITION TO SPACE RESEARCH CENTRE

    This new £3.7 million building, on three storeys, would principally house the Mathematical Modelling Centre. The Centre has come about due to a new £350,000 supercomputer at the University.

    The University has established a new Centre for Mathematical Modelling within the Faculty of Science and will link researchers in diverse disciplines such Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Engineering. The 64-processor shared memory parallel computer will be acquired thanks to funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council special equipment initiative.

    Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Will Light, said: "The computer will form the technical resource base for the newly founded Centre for Mathematical Modelling. When linked to a new PPARC facility in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Leicester will have a computational facility which is amongst the best in the world."

    The extension of the Space Research Centre will also include facilities for a new astrophysics programme and a new Clean Room handling the latest generation of satellites.

    OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

    Over £2 million is also being spent on revamping the research infrastructure for the Chemistry department and creating more room for the School of Archaeological Studies. There are plans to spend £400,000 for laboratories for green technology work and £300,000 to fund equipment in the University division of cardiology at Glenfield Hospital. The funding will underpin a research programme conducted by Professor Nilesh Samani for the British Heart Foundation. There are also plans to spend £100,000 on a phenotype library, providing new equipment for work in biological sciences and psychology.

    More than £3 million is earmarked for refurbishment of the University’s biological sciences building and for upgrading in Engineering.


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    Last updated: 02 October 2001 12:24
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