Unique research alliance expands collaboration opportunities at state-of-the-art medical imaging centre

The UK research community will soon have access to world-class medical imaging facilities in London with the signing of an agreement today between an alliance of leading London-based universities, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Issued: London, UK

  • Agreement sets up transfer of facility to a public private collaboration

The UK research community will soon have access to world-class medical imaging facilities in London with the signing of an agreement today between an alliance of leading London-based universities, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

In a unique partnership, the MRC, Imperial College London, King’s College London and UCL become equal shareholders in a newly created joint venture that assumes responsibility for the facilities and operations at GSK’sClinical Imaging Centre (CIC).

The £47m centre on Imperial College London’s Hammersmith Hospital campus has carried out GSK-dedicated research in close collaboration with academic researchers since it opened in 2007. Under the new arrangements, the research and technical expertise of the four partners will help to drive the centre into new areas and applications of imaging.

“This new joint venture creates a framework for collaborative science across academia, pharmaceutical and biotechnology organisations. The three universities, with the MRC, will work in cooperation with GSK to establish the facility as the UK’s leading clinical imaging centre which will play a vital role in accelerating the translation of biomedical research into healthcare and economic benefits,” said Dr Jim Hagan, CEO of Global Medical Excellence Cluster (GMEC).

GMEC – a public private partnership dedicated to building the UK’s research biomedical research capabilities and enhancing the UK’s competitive position - worked closely with the three academic partners and the MRC to develop and deliver this new operating model.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “Throughout these difficult economic times we need to find innovative ways of ensuring UK bioscience maintains its leading edge. This agreement with GSK will enable the MRC to run a world class facility with three top London institutions, giving them access to state of the art equipment and benefitting researchers across academia and industry.”

Under the terms of agreement, the centre’s operations and staff are expected to transfer to the newly formed joint venture in the third quarter of the year. GSK has committed to remain closely involved with the facility and has agreements with the joint venture to support its long-term engagement in drug discovery and imaging research.

Notes to editors

Professor Steve Smith, Pro Rector for Health at Imperial College London and Chief Executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Imperial staff have been benefiting from the excellent facilities at the Clinical Imaging Centre since it opened in 2007, so we’re delighted to be able to expand our research there. The new agreement will allow us to continue to make strides in areas such as neuroscience, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, which should ultimately lead to better treatments for patients. Our new joint venture is a great example of how universities can collaborate with each other and with industry and the NHS to improve healthcare.”

Dr Alison Campbell OBE, Director of Innovation, King's College London, said: “The establishment of the joint venture is another example of King’s commitment to open innovation. Working in a dynamic partnership with GSK, we have maintained our vision of creating a national centre of research excellence in imaging that will allow industry to work alongside academic researchers to deliver new and improved healthcare.”

Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the MRC, said: “The MRC is delighted to be involved in this exciting new collaboration in Translational Medicine, bringing together three world class universities and GSK to provide researchers across the UK with an outstanding opportunity to understand disease and therapy non-invasively.”

Professor Sir John Tooke, Vice Provost (Health) at UCL, said: “This is a unique alliance, bringing together a formidable range and level of expertise from each of the partners. All of us do a great deal in this field already - UCL has a number of world-renowned imaging groups - but coming together means we can do even more, making advances in clinical imaging which will have a real impact on human health and disease.”

Dr Patrick Vallance, Head of Medicines Discovery and Development at GSK said, “This agreement is further evidence of the industry shifting towards a more open model of working.  Combining the knowledge and expertise that each party brings to the new centre will foster innovation in this exciting area of research, and the industry as a whole stands to benefit from these new imaging opportunities.”

About Imaging

Modern imaging technology allows the study of disease processes in fine detail and to measure the action of medicines in human organs such as the brain and heart. Its unparalleled sensitivity allows interactions to be probed at the molecular level. PET imaging is already widely used as a cancer diagnostic and is increasingly being used in research to develop new treatments in cancer, heart and brain disorders and inflammation.

GlaxoSmithKline – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.  For further information please visit www.gsk.com

The Global Medical Excellence Cluster (GMEC) - is a not-for-profit company formed in 2007 and is the largest healthcare cluster in Europe. It brings together leading universities, companies and NHS Trusts to build the capabilities to keep the UK globally competitive in biomedical research and attract inward investment. Five of the UK’s top life science and medical research based universities -  Cambridge University, Imperial College London, King’s College London, Oxford University and University College London - founded GMEC in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline, GE Healthcare, Pfizer UK, The Maudsley Hospital and The Royal Marsden Hospital. http://www.gmecuk.com/

Imperial College London - Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve global health, tackle climate change, develop sustainable sources of energy and address security challenges.

In 2007, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust formed the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre. This unique partnership aims to improve the quality of life of patients and populations by taking new discoveries and translating them into new therapies as quickly as possible. www.imperial.ac.uk

King's College London  - is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2010 QS international world rankings), The Sunday Times 'University of the Year 2010/11' and the fourth oldest in England.

King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. It has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine, nursing and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.

King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) - a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. www.kcl.ac.uk

Medical Research Council (MRC) - For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council has improved the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class scientists. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a flourishing environment for internationally recognised research. The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs, including one of the first antibiotics penicillin, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges of the 21st century. www.mrc.ac.uk.

University College London (UCL) - Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. UCL is among the world's top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables, and has one of the world’s largest and most prestigious aggregations of academics in biomedical sciences. UCL currently has over 13,000 undergraduate and 9,000 postgraduate students. Its annual income is over £700 million. www.ucl.ac.uk

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GlaxoSmithKline cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements
Under the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Factors that may affect GSK's operations are described under 'Risk Factors' in the 'Business Review' in the company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2010.