School receives £18million funding boost for new Centre for Tropical and Infectious Diseases

Press release 27 Oct 2005

"This state of the art facility will ensure that the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine remains at the cutting edge of scientific endeavour"

The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has received a huge boost for its future with the news that it has secured £18 million of public sector funding to build a new international institute to develop treatments and vaccines for some of the world's most deadly diseases.

The news was announced today (Thursday, October 27) by the Minister for Industry and the Regions Alun Michael.

The Merseyside Objective One programme and the Northwest Regional Development Agency are each investing £9million in building a new Centre for Tropical and Infectious Diseases on a site adjacent to the School in Pembroke Place.

Construction of the new research facility will double the size of the School and confirm its role as a leading centre for the development of novel treatments for tropical diseases such as malaria.

In announcing the news, Alun Michael said: "This is superb news for Merseyside and it means that the region is stepping up to the frontline of the battle against some of nature's biggest killers. It is also strengthening its position as one of the leading international centres for biotechnology. That means better prospects for those faced with the threat of these deadly diseases and better prospects for the local economy, which can expect to benefit by millions of pounds every year."

Bryan Gray, NWDA Chairman said: "This state of the art facility will ensure that the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine remains at the cutting edge of scientific endeavour, building on the Northwest's impressive reputation as a leading region for the biotechnology industry and research. The NWDA is pleased to support this innovative project which will enhance the development of the Northwest's biotechnology sector, assisting the creation of new businesses and creating a number of highly skilled jobs. It will also contribute to the regeneration of Liverpool, bringing 1800 sq m of brownfield land back into productive use."

The project is another major shot in the arm for Merseyside's emerging biotechnology sector which already includes the National BioManufacturing Centre in Speke, the Merseybioscience Business Incubator and a clutch of leading bioscience firms. By 2015, the centre is expected to have worked with around 250 local biotech firms and helped create 640 new highly-skilled jobs.

Simply building the new high-tech centre will create more than 270 temporary construction jobs. Once the four-storey building is complete in 2007 it will house laboratories and research space to develop new medicines and carry out clinical trials before treatments are transferred to local bio-manufacturing specialists for commercial production and marketing. The centre will also provide training for biotech graduates, recruit volunteers for clinical trials and build links with the international pharmaceutical industry.

The centre will forge links with other key biotechnology initiatives in Merseyside, including the National BioManufacturing Centre, the Merseybio incubator network and the University of Liverpool.

The Director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Professor Janet Hemingway, believes the new centre will put the region at the forefront of research into current and emerging infectious diseases threatening world health.

Professor Hemingway said: "The new centre is an integral part of our exciting plans to double the size of the School over the next five years. The School is a unique organisation - the only one capable of initiating, validating and trialling new drugs, vaccines and insecticides for current and emerging infectious diseases such as malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis and SARS. It already has an enviable track record in this area, having recently developed the first new anti-malarial for 25 years." Professor Hemingway added: "We would like to thank the University of Liverpool for their financial,
moral and professional support in our successful bid for this new centre. Also, Liverpool City Council for the gift of land, fundamental to the scheme and Merseybio for their technical advice and support."

The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine is already recognised as a centre of excellence for research into tropical diseases. It has pioneered much of the world's research and helped to produce drugs to treat life-threatening diseases, along with anti-venoms for snakebite victims. It has also trained thousands of doctors and other health professionals from around the world in the specialised field of tropical medicine.

Dave Moorcroft, Director of Economic Development at The Mersey Partnership (TMP) said: "Crucially this new institute will create highly skilled jobs in our growing knowledge economy. Reinforcing the Liverpool city region as a major centre for life sciences research, learning and innovation is the key to growing an internationally competitive industry cluster which will bring economic benefits, not just locally, but across the North of England."

Life sciences is one of the nine sectors targeted for support through the Merseyside sector development programme, managed by TMP.

For further information please contact:
Eileen Taylor, 01704-876024, mobile 0778 66 13604