News Release

New Cambridge institute to house largest concentration of heart and lung researchers in Europe

Ambition to create 10 proof-of-concept drugs or diagnostics in five years could make major impact on patients’ lives

Business Announcement

University of Cambridge

Heart and Lung Research Institute

image: Heart and Lung Research Institute, Cambridge view more 

Credit: Royal Papworth Hospital

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester will today officially open the Heart and Lung Research Institute (HLRI), a major new addition to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

It is expected that the institute, a joint venture between the University of Cambridge and Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, will house the largest concentration of scientists and clinicians in cardiovascular and respiratory science in Europe.

Through collaboration, the HLRI will deliver high impact research to drive breakthroughs in the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of diseases that represent the largest health burden in the world. In the UK, one in every four deaths is caused by cardiovascular disease and one five deaths by respiratory disease. Despite a growing awareness of risk factors, such as smoking and poor diet, the prevalence of such diseases is increasing.

Professor Nick Morrell from the University of Cambridge, Director of the HLRI, said: “This an extremely exciting day for us, the result of many years of planning and much hard work, and promises to transform outcomes for patients with cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.

“The HLRI brings together two powerhouses of world-leading discovery, innovation and clinical care. This constellation of clinical and academic excellence, in close proximity to major pharmaceutical industry partners, is unusual – there isn’t anything like it in the UK.”

The HLRI is situated next door to Royal Papworth Hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, a leading life science research centre which combines world-class biomedical research, patient care and education on a single site, including AstraZeneca’s new centre for global research and development.

Professor Morrell and colleagues have set themselves an ambitious target of developing at least 10 new drugs or diagnostic approaches in heart and lung diseases within five years. To achieve this, over 380 researchers and clinicians will be located in the HLRI, which includes:

  • British Heart Foundation (BHF) Cambridge Centre for Cardiovascular Research Excellence – state-of-the-art laboratories studying genomics, population sciences, cellular mechanisms of disease and translational science that will allow scientists to better understand and treat some of the major killers, including coronary heart disease, coronary artery disease, pulmonary hypertension and stroke.
  • The Cystic Fibrosis Trust Innovation Hub, headed by Professor Andres Floto, which will look at a number of inflammatory lung diseases, including cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • The Wolfson Lung Injury Unit, headed by Professor Charlotte Summers, which aims to understand the mechanisms underlying acute lung injury – including damage as results of pneumonia and COVID-19, among other causes – in order to develop new therapies.
  • A Clinical Research Facility, due to open later this year and headed by Dr Mark Toshner. This new facility will allow up to 10 patients at a time to take part in studies. Dr Toshner aims to transform how these studies take place, working with patients to co-design research.
  • Collaboration space for academia, healthcare, charity and industry to work together, and education facilities including seminar rooms and a lecture theatre.

Funding for HLRI is being provided by the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, which has contributed £30m, the University of Cambridge and the Wolfson Foundation. The British Heart Foundation has donated £10m towards the project, with Royal Papworth Hospital Charity contributing £5million. Additional support has been provided by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust for a Cystic Fibrosis Trust Innovation Hub within the institute.

Professor John Wallwork, Chairman of Royal Papworth Hospital, added: “This will be a huge step forward and demonstrates the very best of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus – cross-site collaboration with the best researchers in the world to help to save lives.

“HLRI will mean new treatments will be created, tested and delivered all on one site to tackle the biggest causes of premature death in the world. It will also allow us to provide further education and training to clinicians tackling heart and lung disease worldwide.

“Bringing together the best researchers, scientists and clinicians in the world will help save lives and allow us to make even quicker progress in bringing tomorrow’s treatments to today’s patients.”

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “The HLRI will provide incredible opportunities for world-leading experts to work together more closely than ever to drive research into heart and circulatory diseases. We are proud support the institute to achieve its ambitious goals and become a new leader in the fight against the world’s biggest killers.”

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease causes nearly 18 million deaths per year, mostly due to heart attacks and stroke, with respiratory disease just behind. The combined worldwide cost of this is more than £840billion each year.

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