Plymouth scientists get first look at new research facility

Scientists from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (PUPSMD) have had their first tour around the new £17 million Derriford Research Facility as it is being built.

When it is complete, the Derriford Research Facility will bring together all of Plymouth University’s lab-based medical, biomedical and dental research. As a neighbour to Derriford Hospital it will also provide opportunities for clinical researchers at the hospital and encourage greater collaboration between them and their contempories at PUPSMD.

Due to open in Spring 2017, the Derriford Research Facility will accommodate a variety of research areas including: brain tumours; anitbiotic resistance and the development of new antibiotics; innovative self-disseminating vaccines for Ebola and bovine TB; neurobiology incorporating Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease; cancer; the diagnosis of Down’s syndrome; hepatitis and; tissue regeneration.

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 project also includes a new STEM teaching area and the refurbishment of existing laboratory, research and teaching space.

On the tour was Dr Tracey Madgett, Senior Research Fellow in Postgenomics Technologies and Laboratory Manager for the Systems Biology Centre, who is currently based on the main Plymouth University campus. She said: 

“This was a great opportunity to see the space at first hand and to visualise how our teams will fit in the space and work together. We are all looking forward to joining our other research colleagues at PUPSMD and to maximising the potential of collaborative working, both with them and our colleagues at Derriford Hospital.”

An example of this collaboration is a scientist from the School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences (part of PUPSMD) who specialises in the development and assessment of new antibiotics and antimicrobials. He is using engineered 3D tissue created by a colleague from the Peninsula School of Dentistry to test them.

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

“The Derriford Research Facility will allow us some unique opportunities to collaborate between ourselves and with clinical research colleagues at Derriford Hospital. This can only result in research findings which will have immense benefit to global health and which will put health research from Plymouth on the international map. The investment in the Derriford Research Facility reflects our commitment to being a research-led Faculty in a research-led University.”

Individuals, organisations and businesses which would like to support health research at Plymouth University can do so confident in the knowledge that their support can focus on a health condition dear to them. There is already significant local support for the development – a local man recently left £100,000 in his will to support research into brain tumours, while a local group with an interest in Huntington’s disease is running a series of fundraising events and have already raised more than £10,000 for equipment vital to Huntington’s research at Plymouth University.

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