LSTM and iiCON secure funding for next-generation high-security lab development

News article 17 Jan 2022
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Female scientist working in high-security laboratory

LSTM and the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON) have secured a £500,000 grant that will support the development of new state-of-the-art Containment Level 3 laboratories at LSTM.

The grant from the independent charitable organisation, The Wolfson Foundation, will support the expansion of high-specification robotic laboratories at LSTM capable of securely handling high-risk and deadly infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

iiCON, which is led by LSTM, brings together industry, academia, and the NHS in a £174 million collaborative infectious disease R&D programme to accelerate the discovery, development and deployment of new antimicrobial treatments and products. Its partners are Unilever, Evotec, Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust, The University of Liverpool, and Infex Therapeutics.

The new facilities will be Robotic Category 3 Chemistry Laboratories, utilising next generation AI technology and robotics, to securely progress the research and development of new products, treatments, and diagnostics for infectious diseases that pose a global threat to human health.

Through iiCON, industry will be able to work alongside LSTM’s world-leading academic researchers on new treatments and products using the new laboratories, which are expected to be operational by early 2023.

Professor David Lalloo, Director of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine: “The Wolfson Foundation have been long term supporters of the work of LSTM and we are delighted to have this link continue in a format that will benefit multiple areas of our activity. As we move towards LSTM’s 125th anniversary in 2023, we plan to expand our activities and facilities  to enable us to continue creating opportunities and generating knowledge that will bridge the gap in health and scientific capacity around the world.”

Professor Janet Hemingway, founding director of iiCON, said: “We’re delighted to have secured this key funding, which will support the development of vital facilities utilising next-generation technology to safely and securely process dangerous pathogens, including COVID-19.

“Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has the highest concentration of Containment Level 3 laboratories in the North West of England. These facilities have played a critical role in the battle against COVID and other pathogens – enabling industry and researchers to work safely and securely with dangerous pathogens.

“We look forward to working closely with our partners to enable industry and academic co-innovation through access to these important facilities that will accelerate the discovery and development of new vaccines, products, and treatments for some of the world’s most challenging diseases."

LSTM’s 125th Anniversary celebrations in 2023 will include a programme of stakeholder events and a large-scale fundraising campaign. This investment will help to develop the next generation of global health leaders, accelerate the development of transformative technologies, and future-proof the region as a world-leading centre for infection innovation, learning, and research.