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The University of Southampton

Southampton to play pivotal role in new Rosalind Franklin Institute

Published: 7 June 2018
Rosalind Franklin Institute buildin
Southampton is one of 10 university partners of the new Rosalind Franklin Institute.

The first wave of major initiatives for the £103m Rosalind Franklin Institute (RFI) have been announced, transforming the way medicines are discovered and enabling the pharmaceutical industry to develop ground-breaking drugs faster, cheaper and better than ever before.

The announcement marks the formal launch of the RFI, an independent organisation funded by the UK government through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) governed by 10 university partners, including the University of Southampton.

The RFI will harness disruptive new technologies such as AI and robotics to dramatically improve our understanding of biology, leading to new diagnostics, new drugs, and new treatments for millions of patients Worldwide. It will pioneer new ways of working with industry, as part of the UK’s AI and Data Grand Challenge, bridging the gap between university research and pharmaceutical companies or small businesses. This will build on the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy and put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future.

The University will play a significant role in disruptive technology projects.  For example we are engaged with a project sharing an investment of £6M by the RFI to create the world’s most advanced, real-time video camera which is key to a new technique that uses light and sound to eradicate some of the most lethal forms of cancer.  

Professor Peter J S Smith, Director of the Institute for Life Sciences at the University of Southampton said: "It's delightful to see the University fully engaged in this exciting national project.  We look forward to playing a pivotal role in the Rosalind Franklin Institute's development and success."

The UK’s Business Secretary Greg Clark also announced funding for other projects to develop a pioneering, fully-automated hands-free molecular discovery to produce new drugs up to 10 times faster and transform the UK’s pharmaceutical industry; and a new UK facility that will revolutionise the way samples are produced and harness Artificial Intelligence (AI) to generate new drugs for clinical trials within a few weeks.

The RFI’s namesake, Rosalind Franklin, was a pioneering X-ray crystallographer and one of the key figures in the discovery of the structure of DNA who used a technique with roots in physics and technology to transform life science.

Alongside the University of Southampton, other academic partners include Imperial College London and the universities of Birmingham, Cambridge, Edinburgh, King’s College London, Leeds, Oxford, Manchester, and University College London. The Institute will have its central hub at the Harwell Campus, delivered by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).



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