Flagship London R&D complex will carry DNA stamp

Few countries have been as badly stung by the financial crisis as the U.K., and its biotech industry has felt the lash. But the country is fighting back, pouring significant sums into its renowned research industry. And this week officials unveiled their design for a flagship, £600 million research center that will be built in London in the shape of a pair of chromosomes.

Destined to become one of the largest research centers in the world when it cuts the ribbon in 2015, the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation will lead the charge into genetics, stem cell research and new therapeutics. Some 1,250 scientists will be based at the 80,000-square-meter facility, with communal work spaces and glass walls intended to help foster a sense of collaboration as the researchers explore new drugs for heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

"When we showed the plans to the scientists, they said: 'That's a chromosome.' It's functional, and also a very good metaphor for what the centre is trying to achieve," said architect Larry Malcic.

Sir Paul Nurse, chairman of scientific planning, wasn't shy about touting the plan. He called the research center "the most exciting project for UK biomedical research in the next 50 years."

- read the story from The Times
- here's the story from the Financial Times