HRH The Princess Royal, left with University of Plymouth Vice-Chancellor Professor Judith Petts CBE

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal today officially opened the University of Plymouth’s multimillion pound Derriford Research Facility, the new headquarters of its flagship Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine.

From brain tumours to vaccines, tissue regeneration to hepatitis, antibiotic resistance to innovative new cancer drugs, the state-of-the-art centre brings together all of the University’s lab-based medical, biomedical and dental research to focus on the development of new therapeutics, diagnostics, interventions and approaches to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases, enhance patient outcomes and improve global healthcare.

Research into the three core themes of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and infection, inflammation and immunity is facilitated by cross-cutting expertise in diagnostics, clinical trials and public health research across the following life-changing areas:

  • brain tumours;
  • non-Hodgkin lymphoma;
  • dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease;
  • antibiotic resistance and the development of new antibiotics;
  • innovative self-disseminating vaccines for Ebola and bovine TB;
  • hepatitis and;
  • tissue regeneration.

Located adjacent to the University’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at Plymouth Science Park, and next to Derriford Hospital, the facility allows greater collaboration between medical, dental and biomedical researchers at the University, as well as with research clinicians from University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust.

The 2,300 square metre building also houses up-to-date stock management for equipment and other supplies; specialist services such as the University’s Systems Biology Centre; and a new STEM teaching area as well as the refurbishment of existing laboratory, research and teaching space.

Her Royal Highness was escorted on a tour of the facilities where she was introduced to some of the life-changing research taking place, before officially unveiling a plaque to commemorate the occasion in front of an invited audience. She said: 

“My congratulations on the achievement of this facility, focused as it is on research, but with very close clinical associations. I suspect that it is also a huge encouragement to patients, who will feel more involved with research in the future, and their families. I hope you feel that this investment, what you see going on and the teams here are truly fulfilling the ambitions you all have for this facility, and the link with the hospital. I am sure there will be much more to come.”

Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth officially welcomed Her Royal Highness and accompanied her on the tour of the facilities. She said: 

We are honoured to welcome The Princess Royal to the Derriford Research Facility. This visit underlines the importance of medical research to the provision of leading health care for the people of Plymouth, the region and beyond. It marks an exciting milestone for the University in accelerating our world-leading research ever-closer to finding treatments, cures, and vaccines against some of the most significant health issues. Our students too, as the future of the health and medical workforce, will greatly benefit from working alongside world-leading researchers in a world class facility. ”

Professor Rob Sneyd, Dean of the University’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, added: 

“This new facility will not only support the growth and development of our thriving, world-renowned research culture, but will also facilitate potentially powerful collaborations between scientists and clinicians at the University and in the wider health sector, and UK and international pharmaceutical and biotech companies. In doing so, it promises to be a platform for the advancement of life-changing medical therapies and clinical practices.”

The quality of health research at the University is nationally recognised. The Research Excellence Framework 2014 ranked the institution top in the UK for the quality of its research outputs in Clinical Medicine. It is one of the lead academic partners in the Alzheimer’s Research UK South West Research Network, and one of only four Research Centres of Excellence for charity Brain Tumour Research.

It is hoped that the Derriford Research Facility will build on these strengths with the potential to attract more of the greatest minds in medicine to Plymouth, and put the city and region on the international map in addressing global health issues.

Derriford Research Facility from the ground