Francis Crick Institute

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Francis Crick Institute
The Francis Crick Institute logo.png
Founded 2007 (2007)
Type Research institute
Registration no. England and Wales: 1140062
Focus Medical research
Sir Paul Nurse FRS, Director, now Chief Executive, of the institute since 2011

The Francis Crick Institute (formerly the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation) is a biomedical research centre currently under construction in London, United Kingdom that opened in 2016.[1][2] The institute is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Imperial College London, King's College London (KCL), the Medical Research Council, University College London (UCL) and the Wellcome Trust.[3] The institute is planned to have 1,500 staff, including 1,250 scientists, and an annual budget of over £100 million,[4] making it the biggest single biomedical laboratory in Europe.[1]

The institute is named after the British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins. Unofficially, the Crick has been called Sir Paul's Cathedral, a reference to Sir Paul Nurse and St Paul's Cathedral in London.[5]

Science programme[edit]

The institute defines its research programme as exploring "seven high-level science questions reflecting both major issues of interest in biomedical research and the current research strategies of its six founders". According to the institute, these questions are:[6]

  • How does a living organism acquire form and function?
  • How do organisms maintain health and balance throughout life and as they age?
  • How can we use biological knowledge to better understand, diagnose and treat human disease?
  • How does cancer start, spread and respond to therapy?
  • How does the immune system know whether, when and how to react?
  • How do microbes and pathogens function and interact with their hosts?
  • How does the nervous system detect, store and respond to information and retain that information throughout life?


The participants in the Francis Crick Institute providing funding are:[3]

Medical Research Council £300 million including incorporating their National Institute for Medical Research
Cancer Research UK £160 million including incorporating their London Research Institute
Wellcome Trust £120 million
University College London (UCL) £40 million
Imperial College London £40 million
King's College London (KCL) £40 million

Building and architecture[edit]

The new Francis Crick Institute building, photographed in October 2015.

The Francis Crick Institute will be located in a new state-of-the-art 79,000 square metre building being built next to St Pancras International railway station in the Camden area of Central London.[4] The building was designed by HOK with PLP Architecture.[7] Construction began in July 2011, with researchers expected to be able to start work in the new building in the summer of 2016.[2][4] Construction and fit-out of the building is budgeted at approximately £660 million.[8] Laing O'Rourke are carrying out the construction work.[9] The facility will incorporate a combined heat and power plant in order to provide low-carbon onsite power.[10] Solar panels installed in the roof provide extra renewable power and all light fittings will be energy-efficient.[11] The roof also hides the heating and cooling units. A third of the building is below ground-level to reduce its visible size.[12]

Labs within the building are arranged over four floors, made up of four interconnected blocks, designed to encourage interaction between scientists working in different research fields.[13]

The institute also includes a public exhibition/gallery space, an educational space, a 450-seat auditorium and a community facility.[14]

Organisation, leadership and governance[edit]

As of 2016 The Crick is led by a Board of directors, an executive committee and associate research directors. The board of directors is chaired by David Cooksey and includes Maggie Dallman, Peter Gruss, Lynne Gailey, Sir Harpal Kumar, David Willetts, David Lomas, Chris Mottershead, Philip Yea, Jeremy Farrar and Doreen Cantrell.[15]

As of 2016 the executive committee of the Crick is staffed by Paul Nurse, (Chief Executive) and includes David Roblin, Chief Operating Officer, Jim Smith, Director of Research, Richard Treisman, Director of Research, Nick Carter, Melanie Chatfield, Ruth Collier, John Cooper, Alison Davis, Steven J. Gamblin, Malcolm Irving, John Macey, Stephane Maikovsky, Katie Matthews, Sir Keith Peters, Geraint Rees and Jonathan Weber.[16]

The associate research directors are Anne O'Garra, Julian Downward and John Diffley.[17]

The Francis Crick Institute is a registered charity in England and Wales no. 1140062 and a company registered in England and Wales no.06885462, with its registered office at 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE.[18]


Francis Crick, who with James Watson created the first double- helix model of DNA and is a "father of modern genetics"

In February 2005, it was announced that the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research would relocate to UCL.[19] The creation of the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) was announced by the then British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, on 5 December 2007.[20][21]

On 15 July 2010, it was announced that Nobel laureate Sir Paul Nurse would be the first Director and Chief Executive of the UKCMRI.[22] He took up his post on 1 January 2011.[23]

On 20 October 2010, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, confirmed that the British Government would be contributing £200 million towards the capital cost of the Centre.[24][25] On 11 November 2010 Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, UCL and the Wellcome Trust signed an agreement to establish the UKCMRI as a charitable foundation, subject to the agreement of the Charity Commission.[26]

On 15 April 2011, it was announced that Imperial College London and King's College London would be joining the UKCMRI as partners and that both had signed a memorandum of understanding to commit £40 million each to the project.[3] On 25 May 2011, it was announced that the UKCMRI would be renamed the Francis Crick Institute in July to coincide with ground being broken on the construction of its building, in honour of the British scientist Francis Crick.[27]

In July 2011, the UKCMRI was renamed the Francis Crick Institute.[27]

A dedication ceremony for the new building was held on 11 October 2011, attended by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, David Willetts MP and Sir Paul Nurse. Francis Crick's surviving daughter Gabrielle (by his second marriage) gave a short speech while his son Mike (by his first marriage) donated Crick's California licence plate "AT GC" into a time capsule buried during the ceremony.[28]

On 7 October 2015, Tomas Lindahl, Emeritus group leader at the Francis Crick Institute and Emeritus director of Cancer Research UK at Clare Hall Laboratory, Hertfordshire, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar.[29]

On 24 February 2016, ‘Paradigm’, a 14-metre high sculpture made of weathered steel and designed by the British artist Conrad Shawcross, was installed outside the institute. It is one of the largest public sculptures in London.[30]

On 1 March 2016, Professor Tim Bliss, from the Crick, and Professors Graham Collingridge (University of Bristol) and Richard Morris (University of Edinburgh) were awarded The Brain Prize.[31]

The Brain Prize, awarded by the Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation in Denmark, is worth one million Euros. Awarded annually, it recognises one or more scientists who have distinguished themselves by an outstanding contribution to European neuroscience and who are still active in research.


  1. ^ a b Jha, Alok (19 June 2010). "Plans for largest biomedical research facility in Europe unveiled". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "The new building | The Francis Crick Institute". The Francis Crick Institute. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  3. ^ a b c "Three's company: Imperial, King's join UCL in £700m medical project". Times Higher Education. 15 April 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "Project Press Release". UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation web site. 21 June 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  5. ^ Callaway, Ewen (2015). "Europe's superlab: Sir Paul's cathedral". Nature. 522 (7557): 406–408. doi:10.1038/522406a. PMID 26108834. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Architecture | The Francis Crick Institute
  8. ^ MRClife November 2013
  9. ^ O’Rourke wins prized £350m superlab contract Construction Enquirer, 2 March 2011
  10. ^ Francis Crick Institute CHP Plant,, retrieved 07/07/2014
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Anon (2016). "Board members". London: Francis Crick Institute. Archived from the original on 2015-09-19. 
  16. ^ Anon (2016). "Executive committee". London: Francis Crick Institute. Archived from the original on 2016-06-14. 
  17. ^ Anon (2016). "Associate Research Directors". London: Francis Crick Institute. Archived from the original on 2015-06-11. 
  18. ^ Charity Commission. Francis Crick Institute, registered charity no. 1140062. 
  19. ^ "UCL wins lucrative research contract". The Guardian. 11 February 2005. Retrieved 23 October 2010. 
  20. ^ "Deal secures £500m medical centre". BBC News. 5 December 2007. Retrieved 23 October 2010. 
  21. ^ "London to lead in medical research". The Telegraph. 5 December 2007. Retrieved 23 October 2010. 
  22. ^ "Project Press Release". UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation web site. 15 July 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  23. ^ "Sir Paul Nurse: Nobel prize-winner Britain's 'most important' scientist". The Telegraph. 7 October 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2010. 
  24. ^ "Spending Review: Science budget escapes swingeing cuts". The Telegraph. 20 October 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2010. 
  25. ^ "Q&A: Science in the Spending Review". BBC News. 20 October 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2010. 
  26. ^ "Green light for £600m medical research centre in London". Construction News. 11 November 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  27. ^ a b "A new name for UKCMRI". UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation web site. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  28. ^ e-mail from Mike Crick to Martin Packer 25 October 2011
  29. ^ The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015, Press Release
  30. ^
  31. ^