£60m research unit unveiled

A NEW £60 million research unit in Edinburgh could help address global challenges such as food shortages and the spread of infections, experts have said.

The Roslin Institute unveiled its new home today, which will house 500 scientists and bring jobs and expertise to the Capital.

The purpose-built centre at Edinburgh University's Easter Bush Campus is aimed at becoming a focal point for research work that could make real differences on a global scale.

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Among the targeted areas will be the study of greenhouse gasses, and investigations into disease which have swept the world in recent years, like bird flu. It replaces the institute's old home in the village of Roslin, where Dolly the Sheep was cloned.

Professor David Hume, the facility's director, said: "The new building is designed to maximise co-operation among our experts. It will help us tackle complex problems ranging from fertility and reproduction through the threats of diseases such as avian flu and tuberculosis to animal welfare and greenhouse gas emissions.

"We now have an iconic building that is instantly recognisable."

The three-storey building has been distinctively designed to resemble the shape of a pair of chromosomes.

Coloured panels that link the offices and the research laboratories symbolise rainbows.

With the involvement of the Scottish Agricultural College, it is hoped it will boost research links between the farming and the medical research sector.

By making breakthroughs on the health and welfare of livestock animals, many of the findings may be applicable to human health.

The building's opening is another major boost for medicine and research in the Capital.

Just a few miles down the road at Little France the Edinburgh BioQuarter is taking shape, with two new laboratory suites due to be up and running by the end of the year.

Both initiatives will reaffirm the city's place on the world stage of scientific medical research.

Key funding for this project was received from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Its chief executive' Professor Douglas Kell, said: "This new building, constructed with significant support from BBSRC, will house world-class science that tackles some of the most important challenges we face.

"These high quality facilities will enable scientists to do research that supports and enhances human and animal health, food security, and social and economic well-being."

SAC chief executive Professor Bill McKelvey added: "The kinds of research that are needed to address today's 'grand challenges' span the range from new fundamental understanding of biology to practical innovation.

"That is what is so appealing about the combination of scientists from SAC and the university in the same building."