A world-leading new centre for food and health research is planned for the Norwich Research Park.
Funding partners include the Institute of Food Research (IFR), the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), the University of East Anglia (UEA), and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Researchers from IFR, UEA and NNUH will be brought together in the proposed new building, alongside partners from the John Innes Centre and The Genome Analysis Centre to uniquely integrate multidisciplinary bioscience and clinical expertise.
The ambition of the Centre is to deliver a step change for Food and Health research and the translation of science into innovative healthy food products and therapies to benefit society and the UK economy. The output of the new Centre will lead to improved human health, the production of nutritionally enhanced crop-based food and accelerate commercial development by UK industry.
Prof David Boxer, Chief Executive of the Institute of Food Research, said: “We are just at the beginning of this exciting new development and whilst we do not have all of the answers yet to all of the questions such as funding, scale, governance, design of the new building and so on, we will be working together over the coming months with the common aim of creating a hugely valuable research asset.
“It will help us to work with more volunteers for food and clinical trials, and will attract food, pharma and fast-moving consumer goods companies that need to acquire understanding and evidence of the effects of products on gastrointestinal process.”
More detailed plans for the centre will now be developed over the next 12-18 months, including the appointment of architects and contractors. The partners in the centre are committed to developing the concept and investing in the building. BBSRC will work with the partners to seek the necessary capital funding.
Prof David Richardson, deputy Vice-Chancellor and, from September, Vice-Chancellor, of the University of East Anglia (UEA), said: “This development will bring together, develop and help us to maximise the benefit of a number of key research and infrastructure developments at the Norwich Research Park. Focussing on plant-derived foods and improving dietary health, this will be a unique multidisciplinary centre for world-leading research.”
Anna Dugdale, Chief Executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the clinical teams to work side by side with IFR and UEA staff to advance innovative treatments, therapies and products to help address major health challenges.
“The centre will incorporate one of the biggest gastroenterology units in the country providing an endoscopy service for approximately 40,000 patients a year, and it will include state of the art facilities for food-focussed studies to develop new treatments for patients. This is great news for Norwich and the region and we are delighted to be part of this pioneering project.”
Prof Jackie Hunter, Chief Executive of BBSRC, said: “This centre will become an international focus of integrative research into food, diet and health. It will enable the understanding of how to achieve lifelong wellbeing through dietary interventions and will work closely with the food industry and healthcare and allied sectors to transfer this knowledge into practice. It will be unique in its ability to draw on the existing world-class research centres at the Norwich Research Park which have been further strengthened by recent BBSRC investments. This centre will be a magnet for leading researchers in nutrition and for industry collaborators. This is an exciting and important development for UK science capabilities and for the Norwich Research Park.”