JIF hands out Pounds 129m to boost research facilities

April 7, 2000

University research facilities will get a Pounds 129 million boost that will create new laboratories as well as re-equipping established ones.

The third round of Joint Infrastructure Fund awards will back projects at 21 universities with grants ranging from Pounds 500,000 to Pounds 19 million.

The scheme, a joint venture between the government and the Wellcome Trust, the world's largest medical charity, is helping United Kingdom scientists maintain their place at the forefront of scientific research.

While the projects in the latest round represent many sciences, much is being focused on exploiting genetic data that is flowing from the Human Genome Project. In this category are the Institute for Biomedical Research at the University of Birmingham, a post-genomic research centre at the University of Dundee and a new centre for functional genomics at the University of Oxford.

Lord Sainsbury, the science minister, said: "The United Kingdom's record in leading-edge discoveries is second to none, but scientists need the funding for their research and the equipment to do it with."

Mike Dexter, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "The JIF is a timely injection of essential resources and will undoubtedly help to alleviate some of the problems of years of chronic under-funding."

Since the awards were launched in 1998, almost Pounds 600 million has been allocated, with Pounds 150 million more still to be earmarked.

Sir Brian Fender, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said the JIF was transforming the scientific research environment within UK universities. "Supporting research in higher education is vital to maintaining and improving the position of science across all disciplines," he said.

The individual awards will be finalised soon, while the closing dates for the final two rounds will be later this month and in October.

Among the projects benefiting from JIF money will be:

An equipped laboratory at the University of Nottingham to study the genetic modification of animals and cloning technology

The creation of the Freeman Centre for excellence in science and technology research with staff from SPRU at the University of Sussex and the Centre for Research in Innovation Management at the University of Brighton

A new centre for fire safety research at the University of Ulster in Jordanstown, which will allow computer-simulated fires to be studied alongside controlled versions of the real thing

A clean-room facility for developing nanotechnology at the University of Birmingham.

Details: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/

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