Home Cellular health The new Cambridge institute will house the world’s largest conc

The new Cambridge institute will house the world’s largest conc


image: Heart and Lung Research Institute, Cambridge
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Credit: Royal Papworth Hospital

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester will officially open the Heart and Lung Research Institute (HLRI), a major new addition to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus today.

The institute, a joint venture between the University of Cambridge and the Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, is expected to house the largest concentration of cardiovascular and respiratory scientists and clinicians in Europe.

Through the collaboration, the HLRI will conduct high-impact research to make breakthroughs in the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of the diseases that represent the greatest health burden in the world. In the UK, one in four deaths is caused by cardiovascular disease and one in five by respiratory disease. Despite growing awareness of risk factors, such as smoking and poor diet, the prevalence of these diseases is increasing.

Professor Nick Morrell from the University of Cambridge, Director of HLRI, said: “This is a hugely exciting day for us, the result of many years of planning and a lot of hard work, and promises to transform the results for patients with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

“The HLRI brings together two global powerhouses in discovery, innovation and clinical care. This constellation of clinical and academic excellence, in close proximity to key pharmaceutical industry partners, is unusual – there is nothing like it in the UK.

The HLRI is located next to the Royal Papworth Hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, a leading life science research center that combines world-class biomedical research, patient care and education on a single site, including AstraZeneca’s new center for global research and development.

Professor Morrell and his colleagues have set an ambitious goal of developing at least 10 new drugs or diagnostic approaches in heart and lung disease within five years. To achieve this, more than 380 researchers and clinicians will be located in the HLRI, which includes:

  • British Heart Foundation (BHF) Cambridge Center for Cardiovascular Research Excellence – state-of-the-art laboratories studying genomics, population science, cellular mechanisms of disease and translational science that will enable scientists to better understand and treat some of the major killers, including coronary artery disease, coronary artery disease, pulmonary hypertension and stroke.
  • The Cystic Fibrosis Trust Innovation Hub, led by Professor Andres Floto, which will look at a number of inflammatory lung diseases including cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • The Wolfson Lung Injury Unit, led by Professor Charlotte Summers, which aims to understand the mechanisms underlying acute lung injury – including damage resulting from pneumonia and COVID-19, among other causes – in order to develop new therapies.
  • A clinical research facility, due to open later this year and led by Dr. Mark Toshner. This new facility will allow up to 10 patients at a time to participate in studies. Dr. Toshner aims to transform the way these studies are done, working with patients to co-design research.
  • Collaborative space for universities, healthcare, charities and industry to work together, and educational facilities including seminar rooms and an amphitheater.

Funding for HLRI is provided by the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, which contributed £30 million, the University of Cambridge and the Wolfson Foundation. The British Heart Foundation donated £10million to the project, while the Royal Papworth Hospital Charity contributed £5million. Additional support was provided by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust for a Cystic Fibrosis Trust Innovation Center within the institute.

Professor John Wallwork, President of the Royal Papworth Hospital, added: “This will be a huge step forward and will demonstrate the best of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus – cross-site collaboration with the world’s best researchers to help save lives.

“HLRI means that new treatments will be created, tested and delivered in one place to fight the leading causes of premature death around the world. It will also allow us to provide additional education and training to clinicians tackling heart and lung disease around the world.

“Bringing together the world’s best researchers, scientists and clinicians will help save lives and enable us to move even faster to bring tomorrow’s treatments to today’s patients.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “The HLRI will provide incredible opportunities for the world’s leading experts to work together more closely than ever to boost heart and circulatory disease research. We are proud to support the institute as it achieves its ambitious goals and becomes a new leader in the fight against the world’s biggest killers.

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases cause almost 18 million deaths a year, mostly from heart attacks and strokes, with respiratory diseases coming close behind. The combined global cost of this is over £840billion each year.

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