Pioneering research institutes to follow global success of Richard III project

Posted by ap507 at Jun 30, 2016 12:05 AM |
Multidisciplinary thinking and incredible teamwork, of the kind that led to discovery and reinterment of Richard III and spectacularly to Leicester City’s Premier League triumph, is behind University of Leicester’s pioneering research institutes

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 29 June

Images of Professor Iain Gillespie and Professor Paul Monks available to download at:

A leading university is building on the worldwide success of its work on Richard III, and drawing inspiration from the teamwork that launched Leicester City to their Premiership victory, to launch four new research institutes that will tackle issues of global importance.

Multidisciplinary thinking and the incredible teamwork of the kind that led to the discovery and reinterment of Richard III and spectacularly to Leicester City’s triumph, is behind the University of Leicester’s pioneering research institutes in Precision Medicine, Space and Earth Observation Science, Structural and Chemical Biology, and Cultural and Media Economies.

The institutes are expected to deliver a step change in research breakthroughs as they set out to grapple with some of the biggest medical, scientific, economic and social questions around including many of those targeted by a £1.5 billion Global Challenge Research Fund set up by the government earlier this year.

The new institutes will bring together experts from a range of academic disciplines to focus on areas of study that will have a real impact on peoples’ lives, such as the development of medical treatments tailored for individual patients.

The brains behind the venture say this approach to conducting research is in step with the latest government policy and should be the norm for studies that must now demonstrate their impact on the world.

Professor Iain Gillespie, Leicester’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, said: “With Richard III we got it right, and it worked brilliantly well. But what we need to be able to do is provide an environment where that is the norm, rather than an exception.

“What we need to ensure is that we have the conditions that allow Richard III type projects to emerge, even when they are not pushed towards us but we are generating them ourselves.”

Professor Paul Monks, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Leicester, who is also working on the development of the institutes, confirmed: “We want Richard III to be the norm for the way we do things. It shows you how to deliver excellent research with impact.”

The professors said students at Leicester will also benefit from the institutes, as the research would inform teaching and expose students to the latest cutting edge advances affecting a wide range of disciplines. Other institutes are already in the pipeline and could be announced as a second tranche next year.

Professor Paul Boyle, Leicester’s President and Vice-Chancellor, said the development was part of a new “discovery-led” approach to higher education affecting both research and teaching and bringing the two closer together.

He said: “Our commitment to discovery is all about imaginative new thinking, and these institutes will underpin fundamental advances in our understanding of the world around us. They are also intended to be focal points for global research conversations.

“The institutes will bring together colleagues from across the university to grapple with fundamental questions that arise at the intersection of different disciplines. This is all part of our commitment to pioneer a distinctive elite of research-intensive institutions.”

Professor Gillespie added that the institutes will be perfectly placed to take on economic and social issues affecting people around the world, which are now being targeted by the new £1.5 billion Global Challenge Research Fund. They represent an agile response to this and other big changes planned by the government in the way research is funded and organised, such as proposals from a review headed by Sir Paul Nurse that have called for closer multidisciplinary working between the seven research councils.

“At the absolute heart of any moves we make towards creating institutes is agility, and moving towards a much more multi-disciplinary problem-based research approach, which is bang in line with everything that is coming out of government and the research councils, and gives us some hope for a positive way forward in the wake of Brexit” he said.

The institutes are being launched today (Thursday 30 June) at an event at the University of Leicester.


Notes to Editors:


Leicester Precision Medicine Institute

The Leicester Precision Medicine Institute is one of four flagship interdisciplinary Research Institutes that the University has launched as part its strategic vision.

Future treatment of human disease will increasingly move from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to one of tailoring the treatment to the individual patient. Considering disease at a personal level allows for tailored (or precision) therapies where patient-specific responses are monitored and treatments refined to deliver optimal efficacy with minimal toxicity or adverse reaction.

With the strapline ‘Improving Healthcare in an Ethnically Diverse Population’ the Leicester Precision Medicine Institute will coalesce and align the research missions of the university and the NHS in Leicester. This Centre of Excellence will develop, evaluate, and implement treatments based on individual patient differences, to provide better healthcare that recognises the ethnic diversity of our population.

Leicester Institute for Structural and Chemical Biology

The Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology will be built upon the widely recognized success of structural and chemical biology at Leicester. Through strengthening cross-college interactions as well as embracing new cutting edge technologies and novel chemical biology approaches we will maximize our future success and impact. Establishing an Institute will also allow this highly successful community to significantly expand their interactions across the University. Many strategically important research areas will benefit, including the CRUK Cancer Centre and the Precision Medicine Institute.

The Institute will encompass four main strands of research activity:

  • Fundamental research into understanding the molecular assemblies that carry out the processes of life.
  • Using structural biology to inform the discovery of novel drugs and therapeutics.
  • Exploiting highly sensitive single molecule techniques to understand the complexities of dynamic biological processes
  • Development of chemical probes, tools and libraries to modulate protein function

To ensure the success of the new Institute the University is investing in eight new posts as well as a PhD and Fellowship programme and capital investment in new technologies.

We expect that the Institute will reinforce and enhance the visibility of Leicester in this area and build upon our national and international reputation for excellence in structural and chemical biology.

Institute for Space and Earth Observation

As part of its strategic vision, the University of Leicester will bring all its space research and related activities under a single Institute for Space and Earth Observation, focussing on Space/EO missions and instruments and the exploitation of these. To be located on the planned National Space Park, the Institute will develop alongside a range of industrial partners to develop new approaches to innovation in space research and make a major contribution to economic growth, particularly in the space applications landscape.

Space has been identified by the Government as one of the eight great technologies and is seen as cross-cutting enabler of growth. The Space Innovation and Growth Strategy study identified Space as a growth market with the target of £40 billion by 2030, 10% of world market. This growth needs to be underwritten by research and the timely creation of the Leicester Institute of Space and Earth Observation Institute will support the Government’s aspirations for the space sector.

Institute for Cultural and Media Economies (CAMEo)

The aim of CAMEo is to undertake high-quality theoretical, empirical and applied research into the productive dynamics of the cultural and creative industries, media and the arts.

CAMEo draws on critical social science, arts and humanities to provide new understandings of cultural work, the ‘creative economy’, media, arts and cultural policy, consumer culture dynamics, and the mediation and representation of cultural and economic life. We are especially interested in exploring the innovative ways in which cultural and media economies are being described, understood, measured, valued, represented and experienced.

CAMEo aims to bring together interdisciplinary academic expertise from across the University of Leicester, and to engage with the practices and policy concerns of different local, national and international publics. Currently we are developing our range of existing and new projects – and invite further conversations, collaborations and partnerships around our key themes and interests.

Share this page: