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Leicester unveils plans for £6m regional tech facility

The new multi-million-pound facility promises to bring cutting-edge research technologies to the Midlands

Posted by Hannah Vickers | August 04, 2017 | Bricks & mortar

The University of Leicester has led a successful bid, in partnership with the Universities of Warwick, Nottingham and Birmingham, to establish a state-of-the-art Midlands regional cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) facility based at the University of Leicester.

The total investment exceeds £6m with £3.7m from the Medical Research Council. The four partner Universities will provide the remaining funds with a major contribution from the University of Leicester (£1.8m).

The facility will bring cutting-edge research technologies to the Midlands and represents another successful collaboration within the Midlands Innovation group.

Professor John Schwabe, Principal Applicant on the bid and Director of the Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology, said: “There is currently a revolution in using Cryo-EM for research in structural biology. This award will keep the Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology at the forefront of the field. 

The facility will be centred around a state-of-the-art microscope, with the latest generation of direct electron-detecting cameras. A second “feeder” microscope will be based at the University of Warwick. The Leicester microscope is currently one of the most powerful instruments of this type. The facility will also boast state-of-the-art computational infrastructure necessary to process the very large amounts of data generated by these instruments.

The University of Leicester is delighted to see the success of this exciting collaborative project with our Midlands Innovation partners. Such developments exemplify the University's strategic ambitions - Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester

Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “The University of Leicester is delighted to see the success of this exciting collaborative project with our Midlands Innovation partners. Such developments exemplify the University's strategic ambitions. 

Professor Iain Gillespie, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research & Enterprise at the University of Leicester, said: “The Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology is one of our flagship Research Institutes. This award is testament to the strength of the Institute and the University's investment in this area.” 

This regional facility will establish a Midlands Cryo-EM ‘ecosystem’ that will enable the sharing of equipment and expertise and will help to strengthen existing and establish new scientific collaborations across the region. 

The investment is part of £11.3m in government funding to boost structural and cell biology research announced at the Royal Society by Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. 

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