The first scientists have moved into the new Francis Crick Institute building, located next to St Pancras station in central London.
Described as the largest biomedical research institution under one roof in Europe, the £650 million Crick Laboratory boasts over 1500 rooms across a floor space equivalent to 17.5 football pitches, four kilometres of laboratory benching, and even bat boxes to encourage local wildlife. It will conduct research into the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of neurodegenerative conditions, cancer, heart disease, infections and stroke.
Science Minister Jo Johnson said that the Institute will help strengthen the UK's position as a 'knowledge economy' and the 'partner of choice for researchers around the world', while Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it will help to 'underpin new research into disease prevention, diagnosis and new treatments that will ultimately bring huge benefits to NHS patients.'
The Francis Crick Institute, formerly the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation, was launched as a partnership in 2007 between the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and three universities: University College London, Imperial College London and King's College London
The Crick Laboratory will be fully operational next year and will include spaces open to the public, including a gallery, café and an auditorium to host events. The Institute will employ 1250 scientists and 250 support staff, and will have an annual operating budget of around £130 million.
Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute, said: 'A remarkable state-of-the-art new home for the Crick has been completed and the occupation by scientists has started. But this is only the beginning. As all our research groups move in over the rest of the year, it will be the discoveries we make here that will establish our place at the forefront of science in London, the UK and worldwide.'