Salvador Moncada, who pioneered research into the role of nitric oxide in the body, is to quit his job as chief scientist at Wellcome, the drug company that was recently taken over by Glaxo, and move to University College London.
In a deal with Glaxo-Wellcome worth Pounds 10 million to UCL, a new Institute of Basic Biomedical Research will be built with Dr Moncada as scientific director.
UCL said that a preliminary agreement was signed this week.
Glaxo-Wellcome said that the collaborative research would look at the role of nitric oxide in cardiovascular disease, one of the three areas of importance that scientists have realised the chemical has in the body.
Dr Moncada's team discovered in 1987 that cells in the lining of the blood vessels give off nitric oxide. This has given insights into the treatment of angina and the control of shock.
The company said it would have "some sort of commercial agreement" with Dr Moncada over research results.