The Queen opens new Francis Crick Institute building
10 Nov 2016
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by The Duke of York, yesterday opened the £650 million Francis Crick Institute in London.
During a tour of the new biomedical facility, The Queen started the sequencing of Sir Paul Nurse’s genome – all three billion letters in his DNA code.
The Crick is the biggest biomedical research institute under one roof in Europe and is investigating the fundamental biology underlying human health and disease.
The Institute was formed on 1 April 2015 and is a registered charity. Its founding partners are the MRC, Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, UCL (University College London), Imperial College London and King's College London.
Paul Nurse, director of the Crick, former president of the Royal Society and Nobel laureate, said: “It was a delight to welcome the Queen to our new building for the Francis Crick Institute and show her some of the science that we are carrying out to understand the human body better in health and disease.”
He added: “As part of the visit, she sequenced my genome and we’ll find out the results in the coming weeks. In our normal work at the Crick, we use this type of advanced sequencing to understand more about genetic influences on disease.”
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh toured the new building for the Crick next door to St Pancras and the British Library. They saw some of the state-of-the-art facilities for research, including the advanced sequencing and peptide chemistry laboratories. They met many of the scientists and staff of the Crick, along with major donors who contributed to the Crick via a Cancer Research UK fundraising campaign. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were also introduced to representatives of each founding partner.
The Royal party met artist Robert Ballagh and unveiled his portrait of Francis Crick, a portrait commissioned by James Watson, who worked with Crick on the structure of DNA. The visit finished with the Queen unveiling a plaque to mark the opening of the institute.
The Crick is bringing scientists together from across disciplines to tackle the pressing health concerns of the 21st century. It will be home to 1,250 scientists and a further 250 support staff at full capacity in 2017.
Construction of the new building for the Crick was completed in August 2016. Researchers will continue moving into the new building from the Crick's legacy institutes until the end of the year.
As a world-leading centre of biomedical research and innovation, it has scale, vision and expertise to tackle the most challenging scientific questions underpinning health and disease. The aim is to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, infections and neurodegenerative conditions like motor neurone disease.
The Crick also has a strong national role. By taking a collaborative approach, training future science leaders, taking forward discoveries towards new treatments for patients and engaging with schools and the public, the Crick aims to boost UK science and help drive the UK economy.
Watch a film introducing the Crick and its ambition for scientific discovery:
All photos © Fiona Hanson, courtesy of The Frances Crick Institute