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Landmark agreement reached for cutting-edge life sciences facility in Whitechapel

The creation of a new cutting-edge life sciences facility to bring new treatments to patients faster moved a step closer yesterday as a landmark agreement was signed by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Barts Health NHS Trust.

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The Principal of QMUL, Simon Gaskell, signed a headline agreement with the Chief Executive of Barts Health, Alwen Williams, for the purchase of land at Whitechapel to support their joint aspirations in the life sciences.

The agreement will provide QMUL with land sufficient to develop 40,000 square metres of space that will support research, innovation and education activities in life sciences, drawing on QMUL’s expertise in specialist areas such as genomics and the clinical capability of the country’s largest NHS trust.

This comes in the week the Government published its Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, which includes recommendations to ensure the right infrastructure is in place to support the growth of life sciences clusters and networks, and to improve collaboration with the NHS for late-stage clinical trials.

The agreement with Barts Health is a landmark development for QMUL and unlocks a hugely significant opportunity for the university and the trust to create a world-leading life sciences centre, working in partnership with the wider NHS, other universities, commercial companies and charitable organisations.

It will enable them to capitalise on the scale of the country’s largest group of NHS hospitals and its extensive specialist services, the world-leading reputation of the university in life sciences research and education, and the extraordinary diversity of the local population that both institutions serve.  

A key component of the activity will be working with the NHS to make use of new techniques in advanced therapies including genetic medicine, in order to deliver major health benefits for the local population, as well as at a national and international level. The enormous potential will be enhanced by the exceptionally strong transport links that Whitechapel will enjoy once Crossrail is completed in 2018.

Professor Simon Gaskell said: “I’m delighted to sign this agreement with Barts Health, which unlocks a major opportunity for both organisations to work together in the interests of delivering better health outcomes for our local populations. We can now move forward on developing our plans for a world-class life sciences centre at Whitechapel, building on QMUL’s internationally-leading expertise in areas such as genomics, and working with Barts Health and also with other partners from a range of sectors."

Alwen Williams, Chief Executive of Barts Health NHS Trust said: “Together with Queen Mary University of London we want to lead the way in detecting, preventing and managing health conditions and diseases. With many of the world’s population groups on our doorstep and the expertise both our organisations bring to the table, we’re excited about the benefits for our community and beyond.”

Work will continue with Barts Health over the coming weeks to finalise the detailed legal aspects of the agreement. Discussions will also continue between QMUL and Barts Health around the joint development of additional space at Whitechapel for related activities (covering the spectrum from research across to innovation, translation and clinical practice) and for residential accommodation for key workers, students, and researchers.

Achievement of this development will be followed by focused work in a number of areas.  

More information on QMUL’s life sciences plans at Whitechapel will be provided over the coming months and can be found here. Information about Barts Health’s plans for life sciences is available here.

For media information, contact:

Rupert Marquand
Media Relations Manager