University realises plans for £12m new centre at hospital

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AN “iconic” £12 million medical facility is set to be created in the grounds of the Western General Hospital, it was revealed today.

The Edinburgh University project aims to link the three buildings which form its Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) to create one centre.

More than 500 scientists work on the site, specialising in everything from birth defects to end of life care – including psychiatric disorders, ageing and cancer.

The new proposals are possible thanks to £12 million of funding earmarked by the Wellcome-Wolfson Foundation, the Medical Research Council and the University of Edinburgh.

The university has submitted a planning application to the council and, if approved, construction will get under way in January 2013 and take 18 months to complete.

Professor Nicholas Hastie, director of IGMM, said: “This iconic new building will bring together scientists and clinicians across the institute and will be vital for our goal to identify pathways underlying disease and to use this information for clinical benefit.”

The designs have been drawn up by Overlanders Architects, the firm behind the Ratho Adventure Centre and the Springside housing development in Fountainbridge.

The resulting centre would focus on “systems medicine”, a discipline which aims to help researchers understand and treat common diseases by combining expertise in chemistry, physics, computer science, mathematics, genetics and medicine. The four-storey facility in the east of the hospital’s grounds will have an open design to encourage interaction and collaboration between researchers.

It will provide teaching and office spaces, computing suites and a new common room.

Existing laboratories would be freed up to allow the expansion of IGMM research programmes.

The proposals would also see the creation of a lecture theatre with capacity for a further 180 people.

Established in 2007, the IGMM at Carrington Crescent is home to the Molecular Medicine Centre, the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre and the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit, and is one of the largest centres for human genetics and molecular medicine in Europe.

Football epic scores a special goal

A SPECIALIST who will help children to live with scars or disfigurements is to be appointed at the Sick Kids – the first post of its kind in the UK.

The expert working with the Changing Faces charity will offer specialised emotional support to children funded by the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.

Children will be coached to boost confidence and self-esteem in workshops and counselling sessions, to help them deal with social situations where they may be stared at or bullied.

Eight-year-old Angus Blacklock from Aberlady, East Lothian, is one of many children who has benefited from the work of both Changing Faces and the SKFF. The youngster, who has a condition called Microtia, was born with one ear and a submucous cleft palate in his mouth, which affects his speech.

Last year, his father Robin Blacklock tackled a 7000-mile drive to visit the home grounds of every team which has ever won the European Cup. The challenge raised more than £100,000, with Robin donating the proceeds to the SKFF and Changing Faces.

Robin said he was “delighted” that there will soon be a Changing Faces Practitioner on hand in Edinburgh.

“It will make a huge difference to families to have a contact on the ground,” he said.

The SKFF hopes the post, which aims to run for three years, will begin this summer.