World leading Biomedical Research Centre opens in Liverpool

Press release 11 Feb 2009

An international centre for research into the diagnosis and treatment of some of the world’s most serious infections, has been launched in Liverpool.

The Biomedical Research Centre has been officially opened by Sir William Stewart, chairman of the Health Protection Agency.

The pioneering centre has been set up by the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust; the University of Liverpool and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. It is one of 12 in the country to be funded by the National institute for Health Research (NIHR) as part of the Government’s 2006 health research strategy and puts Liverpool in the front line of the world’s battle with infections such as Clostridium difficile, tuberculosis, sepsis and HIV.

The joint venture has received £13.5m funding from NIHR and a further £6.4m from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA).

Its focus is on four broad areas – hospital and community acquired infections, chest infections, sexual health and the safety of antimicrobial drugs.

The research is being carried out in the following state of the art facilities located in the Royal Liverpool Hospital:

  • A new clinical research unit, with interview and examination rooms and six beds for trials of new drugs and treatments
  • A medical microbiology facility for the identification and safe handling of bacteria
  • A bioanalytical facility measuring drug levels and other small molecules at low concentrations
  • A sample repository and database for human samples and organisms, linked to a national database to develop a registry of infectious diseases and adverse reactions from antibiotics

Peter Winstanley, Head of the University of Liverpool’s School of Clinical Sciences and Executive Director of the BRC, said: “This prestigious new centre puts Liverpool at the cutting edge of research and means we can pioneer new drugs and diagnostic tools for a range of conditions.

“Its importance to the scientific and medical world – and to the victims of diseases – cannot be underestimated. Here in Liverpool we will be investigating ways of alleviating suffering and treating infections which affect millions of people around the world.”

Sir William Stuart said: “Work in this new centre in Liverpool will have global significance. It will further our understanding of such infections as TB and HIV and it will be in the frontline of research into sepsis and healthcare associated infections such as clostridium difficile.

"I understand that the Centre will deliver 13 projects over the next five years, including genetic testing to identify people who are likely to be allergic to penicillin: and vaccine development for pneumonia, which is a major cause of death in adults and children worldwide. There will also be research into the factors that cause some HIV patients to develop resistance to their drug therapies.

"This is important work that will take place in first rate facilities. I believe that this Centre will be a magnet to our very best scientists, retaining and attracting the best brains to Liverpool and the North West, not just from elsewhere in the UK, but internationally. It is a privilege and pleasure to open such an important and worthwhile development."

Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust Chief Executive Tony Bell said: “There has been groundbreaking medical research going on in Liverpool for many years; the new Biomedical Research Centre acknowledges the excellence of that work and gives us the opportunity to make a much bigger impact on the treatment of infections worldwide. I am delighted to be part of such a vital development."

John Stageman, NWDA Board Member and Vice President of UK Science Affairs at AstraZeneca, said: "The biomedical sector in the Northwest is one of the region’s priority sectors, with Merseyside in particular having internationally recognised strengths in tropical disease and infection research, and in the development and manufacture of vaccines.. The NWDA’s investment in this pioneering new centre demonstrates the Agency’s ongoing commitment to driving further growth in this sector and enhancing the region’s reputation as a world leader in biomedical research."


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Alan Hughes, Communications Manager
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