Science and Technology Facilities Council
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UK life sciences research facility reaches its highest point

The latest major milestone in the development of the UK’s life sciences Rosalind Franklin Institute Hub research facility has been marked by the “topping out” of its building.

The 5500m2 building, known as the Franklin and located at STFC’s Harwell campus in Oxfordshire, will be a national centre for life science technology development and is expected to open in early 2021. Members of Rosalind Franklin’s family, and a group of young scientists from the Downs School, Compton recently helped to mark the topping out occasion, a construction tradition celebrating reaching the highest point of a building. The Franklin family laid the final piece at the top of the four-storey construction.

Dr Neil Geddes, STFC’s Executive Director for National Laboratories, recently said:

“The Franklin represents a wonderful opportunity for collaboration between the new institute and our own scientists and technologists at STFC. We are proud to be working so closely on the Hub project and we look forward to supporting the Franklin in its unique work in the life sciences.”

The Franklin was established by UK Research and Innovation and ten UK universities to drive future advances in life sciences through developing cutting-edge technology. Its new building, delivered by STFC working with construction team Mace, is the heart of an Institute with members in Universities across the UK. Research already underway at member universities will eventually move into the completed building in Harwell. The initial themes of the Franklin centre around the ability to see cells better than ever before: understanding their atomic and molecular composition, their detailed chemistry, and the way change occurs in their structure and behaviour over time.

At Harwell, the £40m Hub building will house 200 scientists from around the UK and further afield working together to develop new tools and technologies. The building contains highly specialised spaces, including the most electromagnetically stable space on earth, essential for developing new electron microscopes. The design team have also focused on maximising useful space available for research.  Early analysis of the design shows that the Franklin Hub will the most efficient research space in the UK, while keeping social, networking, and high quality working spaces.

RFI Director Professor Jim Naismith recently said:

“The Franklin is there to develop tools which can’t be found anywhere else, and which make a significant difference to the work of researchers. We talk about the factor of ten – every technology we develop should make a factor of ten difference to the speed, resolution, or productivity of a technique. This is important as developing new drugs has never been slower or more expensive than it is now. To make an impact on human health, we need new ways to see and understand diseases.”


The Rosalind Franklin Institute

The Rosalind Franklin Institute is a national institute dedicated to transforming life science through interdisciplinary research and technology development. The Institute will bring together researchers in life, physical science, and engineering, to develop disruptive new technologies designed to tackle major challenges in health and life sciences.

The Institute is funded by the UK Government through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Website: Twitter @RosFrankInst


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