SCOTLAND’S life sciences companies were given a boost yesterday as building work got under way for a centre in Dundee to bring together academics and industrialists, which will initially create 200 research jobs.
The £12.5 million Centre for Translational & Interdisciplinary Research (CTIR) will house more than 1,000 scientists and support staff when it opens next year and is expected to attract drugs developers and other firms.
Michael Ferguson, dean of research at Dundee University’s college of life sciences, said the institution was already leading the field in research on tropical diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness and tuberculosis.
Now Ferguson hopes the CTIR will help the university to develop treatments for cancer, eczema and other diseases.
“Universities are very good at innovation,” said Ferguson. “What they haven’t been quite so good at is developing the capability to translate that innovation into new medicines and applications. This centre will help us provide that bridging point.”
Graeme Boyle, senior programme manager at Health Science Scotland, the body set up by health boards and universities to promote Scotland as a centre for research, said the CTIR would pay dividends for the whole country. “The new centre will help to promote Scotland internationally as a destination for drug developers and other companies and it will also help to bring universities researchers and businesses together to share information and share ideas,” he said.
“Bringing researchers and companies together in clusters like Dundee creates a ‘virtuous circle’ because it helps to grow the industry. The centre will not just promote Dundee but also the whole of Scotland.”
Funding for the CTIR has come from donations by charities, as well as £4.9m from the Wellcome Trust and £5m from the university itself.
Scott Johnstone, chief executive of the Scottish Lifesciences Association (SLA) trade body, said: “It’s great to see this boost in translational funding.
“To have this on the doorstep of member companies such as CXR Biosciences, Cyclacel, Integrated Magnetics and Onorach will strengthen the attraction of developing new therapies in Scotland. SLA member companies have a track record in raising the significant funding to develop these innovations into products and we welcome any investment by the government in translational research”
The building will include space for mathematicians and physicists working on health research, as well as biologists.