Plymouth University has received planning permission for a £14 million state-of-the-art research centre for life-changing health and medical research, at the headquarters of its Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry at Plymouth Science Park.

Contractors will be appointed in May and work will commence in June. The entire project, including the refurbishment of existing laboratory, research and teaching space, will complete in Autumn 2016.

The 2300 square metre build will house biomedical research currently on the University’s main campus in the city centre. Projects range from the diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome to antibiotic resistance, the use of viral vectors as a way to disseminate vaccines for Ebola and bovine TB, the role of ancient DNA in modern health, genetic influences on post natal depression, and others.

The new building will also include up-to-date stock management for equipment and other supplies, allowing for greater transparency and cost savings, and will house specialist services such as the Plymouth University Systems Biology Centre.

The majority of equipment to be used in the new labs will come from existing labs on the University’s main campus.

The new facilities are in addition to existing laboratories on the same site, where scientists investigate a number of conditions, including brain tumours, hepatitis, neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, stroke and cancer.

The position of the new facility is important, because not only will it allow greater collaboration between medical, dental and biomedical researchers at the University, it will also mean that more collaboration can take place with research clinicians from Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

Professor Raymond Playford, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Plymouth University, commented: 

“Planning permission is the green light which will allow us to develop this new research facility and see us achieve our aspirations as a leader in world class medical and health research. Underpinning this is our outstanding performance in this area in the Research Excellence Framework, the independent ‘audit’ of all research carried out by universities across the UK, which saw us first in the country for the quality of our medical and clinical research outputs.”

He added: 

“Add to this national recognition by two major charities – Brain Tumour Research and Alzheimer’s Research UK – an increase in grant income and more and more research appearing in high level research publications, and we can have every reason to be confident in future research success.”

Professor Robert Sneyd, Dean, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, said: 

“Our new facility will allow us to bring together medical, dental and biomedical research onto one site and to build on our plans to date. These have included incorporating the University’s School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences, making significant appointments of leading researchers with international reputations (which has resulted in more collaborations with research institutes around the world) and developing our relationship with clinical researchers at Derriford hospital and further afield.”