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Rosalind Franklin Institute invests £6m in disruptive technologies

Will open new AI-enabled research facility based in the UK

image courtesy of IBIMarking its first wave of major initiatives, the Rosalind Franklin Institute (RFI), a government-funded research facility launched earlier this week, is investing £6m in drug discovery projects.

The new initiatives, which aims to “transform drug discovery”, will see the institute unveil a new hub that will house a portfolio of scientific tools and researchers from both industry and academia.

Opening in 2020 the new building, which will be based in Harwell, UK, will be equipped with disruptive technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to improve understanding of biology.

Professor Ian Walmsey, pro-vice chancellor, research and innovation at the University of Oxford and chair of the RFI’s interim board, said: “The RFI will pioneer disruptive technologies and new ways of working to revolutionise our understanding of biology, leading to new diagnostics, new drugs and new treatments for millions of patients worldwide.

“It will bring university researchers together with industry experts in one facility and embrace high-risk, adventurous research, that will transform the way we develop new medicines.”

The institute is named after Rosalind Franklin, the woman scientist who played a key role in the discovery of the structure of DNA, but whose contribution was overlooked when Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins won the Nobel Prize in 1962.

Franklin's research technique had roots in physics and technology to transform life science, and aims to pursue discoveries in the same spirit.

RFI is an independent organisation funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and aims to develop novel techniques and tools while applying them for the first time to biological problems.

Professor Philip Nelson, executive chair, EPSRC, said: “As EPSRC is the main delivery partner for the RFI, I am extremely please to see the institute officially launch.

“Research here at the Harwell hub, and at the universities that form the spokes of the institute, will help the UK maintain a leading position in the application of engineering and physical sciences to problems in the life science industry.”

The new hub - which is a four storey, £40m build - is being managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Article by
Gemma Jones

6th June 2018

From: Research

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