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Official launch of cutting-edge science complex at Harwell

Visit Research Complex at Harwell website

6 July 2010

The Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH), a new state-of-the-art science facility, funded in part by BBSRC, for researchers using resources on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, will be officially opened on Friday 9 July 2010.

The RCaH provides a unique environment for researchers in the life and physical sciences, enabling them to work side by side at the interface between traditional disciplines and use the major facilities on the Harwell Campus such as the Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) ISIS neutron source and Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron.

The RCaH will officially be opened by Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council (MRC), with speeches from RCaH Director Professor Simon Phillips and 2009 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry Professor Venki Ramakrishnan.

Prof Phillips said: "This is a fantastic new laboratory space, at the heart of a cluster of world-leading large research facilities. Scientists from many different fields: from biology to physics, will be working together in one building. We know from experience many unexpected scientific advances take place as a result of such interactions. A novel aspect of the Complex is that it acts as a 'Research Hotel,' meaning that scientists from universities all over the UK can come here and use our facilities."

The RCaH project was instigated following recognition by the Government that maintaining access to cutting-edge, large scale facilities is vital to ensuring the UK's prominence at the forefront of research. It was built on behalf of Research Councils UK and funded by the STFC, MRC, BBSRC, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council and Diamond Light Source.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "This state-of-the-art complex has huge potential for maintaining our position at the cutting edge of world leading science. By bringing together scientists from all disciplines under one roof, on the doorstep of internationally-renowned research facilities such as Diamond and ISIS, their work will deliver far-reaching benefits for our everyday lives, and attract internationally mobile business R&D here."

Built on land at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), the £26m complex is adjacent to Diamond, ISIS and the Central Laser Facility (CLF), allowing visiting and resident research teams to collaborate closely with beam line scientists from these facilities and highly-experienced technical experts.

Areas of scientific research to be pursued at the RCaH include structural studies of membrane proteins; high throughput functional structural genomics related to disease and enzyme mechanisms; biological imaging; drug development and delivery; energy research; development of novel materials; nanotechnology; new chemistry; environmental science and engineering.

The design and requirements of the RCaH were developed in consultation with users and stakeholders. Prof Phillips explained: "We have an amazing range of adaptable and mixed-use laboratories, offices, seminar rooms and equipment that will attract world-class visiting scientists for short, medium and long term projects."

He added: "The building is sufficiently adaptable in design to be capable of responding to changes in research requirements and opportunities in the future."


Notes to editors

For more information and to order photography from the launch event, please contact Judith Eades, MRC Communications Manager, on 07920 768194.

The Medical Research Council led the RCaH project on behalf of Research Councils UK, in partnership with BBSRC, EPSRC, NERC, STFC and Diamond. The build was managed by the STFC's Building Projects Group. For more information on the RCaH go to


BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £470M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

BBSRC provides institute strategic research grants to the following:

  • The Babraham Institute
  • Institute for Animal Health
  • Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Aberystwyth University)
  • Institute of Food Research
  • John Innes Centre
  • The Genome Analysis Centre
  • The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)
  • Rothamsted Research

The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.