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Future Cities Forum 'Science Cities' to be hosted at Cambridge Biomedical Campus

Above: Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Heart and Lung Research Institute - front left - with the Royal Papworth Hospital on right, and AstraZeneca's DISC building behind

Future Cities Forum is delighted to be hosted by Cambridge Biomedical Campus for its September 'Global science cities and the future of Silicon Fen' event in The Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Heart and Lung Research Institute (VPD-HLRI) which opened in July 2022.

The Institute is a joint venture between Cambridge University and Royal Papworth Hospital and represents a major expansion of cardiovascular and respiratory research capacity.

Royal Papworth Charity contributed £5 million to support the build to ensure our patients have access to the world’s best treatment.

Funders of the HLRI include: The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, the University of Cambridge; the Wolfson Foundation; the British Heart Foundation, the Royal Papworth Charity and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and most recently The Victor Dahdaleh Foundation.

Diseases of the heart and lung are some of the biggest killers worldwide. 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 ranking just behind.

In UK, 1 out of 4 deaths are caused by cardiovascular disease and 1 out of 5 deaths by respiratory disease. Despite a growing awareness of risk factors, such as smoking and poor diet, the prevalence of such diseases is increasing.

Research at the new Institute will be increasingly directed towards disease prevention and the interplay between genetics and lifestyle.

Clinical trials will also be a critical part of the research process, and the Institute has opened a new Clinical Research Facility that will complement available facilities on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. For many relevant conditions, the Royal Papworth Hospital is the largest referral centre in the UK, and new treatment strategies will benefit from close ties between the hospital and the University of Cambridge.

The Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC) is located at the heart of the UK’s and Europe’s leading life sciences cluster. It is a vibrant, international healthcare community and a global leader in medical science, research, education and patient care.

By locating world-leading academic and industry scientists on the same site as the teaching hospitals of the University of Cambridge, it believes it is creating the optimum environment for the rapid and effective translation of research into routine clinical practice, succeeding because of the strength of its ecosystem which allows ideas to develop and flourish as well as the physical space to accommodate new and expanding companies and the international connections to be the global hub for content and research.

The principles underpinning the campus are collaboration and sharing. It states that it wants to foster an environment where individual organisations both contribute to, as well as gain from the success of others on site and where like-minded people work in partnership, committed to realising a shared ambition of improving patient care and outcomes – through the discovery, commercialisation and adoption of innovative new products and services into healthcare practice.

This co-location underpins collaboration which in turn supports improving healthcare capabilities, as CBC Managing Director Nick Kirby, who joined our 'Science Cities' forum in Cambridge at Newnham College last January, explained:

'The combination of commercial life sciences, healthcare and academia is the USP we have. You see it through the collaborations between the MRC and AstraZeneca, which have funded ninety PhD students working on new medical discoveries, and then there are the new plans for the Cancer Research Hospital approved by government. The proposition behind this is compelling, putting less of a burden on the exchequer, with investment from three new university institutes and from commercial life sciences. That's the proposition we are capable of delivering’.

Nick described his vision for 'holistic, sustainable expansion that encourages growth' for the campus on the south side of the city:

'What do we mean by inclusive growth? How do we secure this for the long term to benefit the community? To start with the campus, we have 22,000 people working on it and this number is planned to grow to 40,000 by 2040. Over that time there will be 500,000 square metres of new life sciences space.

'There is no credible path to that kind of growth without addressing the questions around infrastructure, and we have some agency over that at a campus level, as others do over in the wider city, but it requires a different approach at a national level.'

Nick pointed to the work being led by Peter Freeman on behalf of the Government, noting that whilst this clearly intended to address infrastructure priorities, there was more to do. Reflecting on the importance of inclusive growth, Nick referred to research from the Bennett Institute: ‘Their work addresses the issues concerning the social infrastructure we need if we are to achieve what Cambridge is capable of - and compete on the world stage.

 'A further priority in approaching the question of growth is bringing people with us. Failure to engage and involve the public will ultimately be reflected in decisions by the electorate. The government's vision is only achievable with a much more credible pathway to the infrastructure required.'

Nick commented on the effective role undertaken by Cambridge Ahead in advocating for a focus on energy, utilities, water, transport. These infrastructure priorities extend to the wider public services infrastructure. ‘One example of this would be the need for investment in acute hospital infrastructure, illustrated by the fact that Addenbrookes Hospital has an A&E department that was designed to handle one third of the patients that it has to cope with today.’

'It is also important that we understand the need for affordable housing; The Campus has commissioned Lichfields, the planning firm, to design a housing strategy which describes the affordable housing need associated with Campus growth, and then what it means to create a place. We don't want to drive the sort of housing to create a place that is not holistic’.


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