University launches new Pandemic Science Hub

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The University has launched a new multimillion pound research programme to develop treatments for lung infections such as Covid-19 and future pandemics.

The Baillie Gifford Pandemic Science Hub will use translational genomics – following clues from the human genome to identify, and rapidly test new treatments – with experimental medicine methods to quickly evaluate and develop drugs for lung inflammation and injury caused by infection.

It will combine Edinburgh’s world-class ability to determine a person’s genetic predisposition to lung injury with advanced interventional robotics for drug delivery, cutting-edge sensing and sampling technologies, and innovative clinical trial design.

Baillie Gifford is supporting the launch with a philanthropic gift of £14.7 million. The University aims to secure a total of £100m investment to accelerate discoveries to drive clinical translation in Covid-19 and other human lung diseases, as well as aiding preparedness for future pandemics.

This investment will accelerate partnerships and translational opportunities with other academic organisations, industry and other collaborators worldwide. The hub will attract additional interdisciplinary research scientists and clinical leaders to drive this work forward.

The hub will harness the expertise of the University’s leading data scientists, roboticists, engineers, chemists, biologists, regulatory experts, drug developers, toxicologists, translational managers and clinicians.

Professor Kenneth Baillie, Professor of Experimental Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said: “This support brings together two fields in which the University has created truly world-leading capabilities: translational genomics and experimental medicine. The tools and infrastructure that we are building for respiratory and critical care medicine will create opportunities for rapid translation to effective therapies across many areas of medicine.”

Professor Kev Dhaliwal, Professor of Molecular Imaging and Healthcare Technology at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Innovation and team science are at the heart of this new push which will make a jump in experimental medicine capabilities. Fusing disciplines in a translationally focused environment to accelerate therapies and approaches for lung inflammation is a major challenge and we are delighted that we are being supported by Baillie Gifford to establish this hub and also recruit leaders from across the world.”