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First Minister opens gateway to medical discovery

Friday 12 November 2010

First Minister Alex Salmond

A new £45 million building, which will help secure Scotland's future as a world leader in medicine and biological sciences, was officially opened today by First Minister Alex Salmond.

The University of St Andrews’ new Medical and Biological Sciences Building brings together the medical school (relocated from the Bute Building), biologists, physicists and chemists, while also linking to the School of Physics and Astronomy via a first-floor bridge – making it one of the first medical schools in the UK to fully integrate research facilities across the sciences.

The new development aims to produce the best doctors of tomorrow and the research that will inform future therapies and deliver major health benefits.

Opening the building, First Minister Alex Salmond said:

“The University of St Andrews has a long, proud tradition in educational excellence and this £45 million state of the art facility will bring together students across all science disciplines to create a rich collaborative environment.

“Scotland’s scientists and researchers have made an immense contribution to shaping the modern world and this new facility will strengthen this reputation. It will not only attract new undergraduates to the University, educating our next generation of doctors, but will establish a hub for the creation of new medical research and breakthroughs.

“This new building will be one of the first UK medical schools where research facilities are integrated across the sciences and this opening demonstrates how Scotland's oldest University remains at the forefront of innovation.”

The facility provides world-class medical and science facilities over three floors. These include a lecture theatre for 300 people, teaching rooms, laboratories, research units, offices and support areas.

The First Minister marked the occasion by unveiling a commemorative seat in the building’s courtyard. He was joined by Chancellor Sir Menzies Campbell MP, Principal and Vice Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson, Master of the United College Professor Neville Richardson, Dean of Medicine and Head of the School of Medicine Professor Hugh MacDougall, and Acting Head of the School of Biology Professor Mike Ritchie.

The Principal, Professor Richardson said:

“In creating our new School of Medical and Biological Sciences we are building on a 600 year tradition. The first University in Scotland was established here in the years between 1411 and 1413. Today we are the first University in Scotland fully to integrate research facilities across medicine and the sciences. Our vision for the School is to advance cutting edge medical and scientific research in an effort to solve enduring medical problems and promote human health.”

Professor MacDougall said:

“The St Andrews School of Medicine now located at the heart of one of the UK’s most research-intensive science universities, will create the best environment for medical education and research and the greatest potential for the interdisciplinary collaboration which will help provide solutions to the treatment of currently incurable diseases.”

Already the University of St Andrews’ investment in the multi-disciplinary research structure is delivering results. St Andrews doctors and scientists are leading ground breaking studies thanks to major research grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the Alzheimer’s Trust, and a European grant to study the genetics of obesity. These awards have been won by cross disciplinary teams, and acknowledge the University of St Andrews as an institution driving medical and scientific discovery.

The eco-friendly building has been designed to minimise energy use and provide a healthy internal environment. Features include solar thermal panels on the roof, the use of recycled materials, and toilets flushed with rainwater.

Notes to Editors

The project has been funded by the University of St Andrews with support from a number of donors and trusts.

Major pledges of support have been received from the Wolfson Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, and the Robertson and Yelsel Trusts. Other individuals have given major support through pledges and legacies helping us achieve a significant portion of the total required.

The official opening ceremony was followed by a series of afternoon lectures –

  • Professor Peter Donnelly, Chair of Public Health Medicine - “Violence, inequality and ill health; causes, consequences and countermeasures”
  • Professor Stephen Gillespie, Sir James Black Chair of Medicine – “Tuberculosis and the fall of Napoleon”
  • Professor Sir John Savill, Vice Principal of the University of Edinburgh and Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council – “The Future of Medical Research”

The Medical and Biological Sciences Building at the University of St Andrews was built by Bovis Lend Lease, one of the UK’s leading construction and project management companies.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Contact: Emma Shea, Communications Manager, on 01334 462 109 or email Emma.Shea@st-andrews.ac.uk