The Francis Crick Institute is marking its fifth anniversary by launching a renewed strategy, outlining a refreshed direction for its research.
The strategy is a renewal of, and shares its name with, Discovery Without Boundaries, the first Crick strategy published in 2013 before the formal establishment of the institute.
It sets out the Crick’s mission, which is to ‘conduct world-class discovery research to understand how living things work and to drive benefits for human health.’
The refreshed strategy describes the Crick’s five guiding principles:
- To accelerate discovery through a culture of scientific excellence.
- To support the biomedical research endeavour across the UK and beyond.
- To make discoveries that improve human health.
- To engage and inspire the public with discovery science.
- To build capability for outstanding science support.
It also lays out the Crick’s science programme for the coming years, including human biology, research into the foundations of life, understanding the organism, and health and disease.
More specific thematic areas are: cancer; the immune system and infections, neural systems; repair degeneration and ageing; and physiology and homeostasis.
An independent review panel endorsed this refreshed approach in the Crick’s recent institute review.
“We’re very pleased with what we’ve achieved since our formation in 2015, and our moving into the building in early 2017. We can now celebrate five years under a single roof, with a single integrated leadership,” said Paul Nurse, the Crick’s director.
“I am excited about the next chapter in the Crick story. This strategy details what we plan to achieve at the Crick over the next few years.”
In the past five years, the Crick has recruited 32 new early-career group leaders from 15 countries, and integrated more than 50 collaborating groups from partner universities. More than 300 students and 600 postdoctoral training fellows have joined the institute, and the education programme has engaged almost 20,000 students from local schools.
The Crick has been recognised through major scientific prizes including a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, an Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, a Canada Gairdner International Award, two consecutive Louis Jeantet prizes and an EMBO Gold Medal.
There were 2,103 Crick research papers published between April 2015 and December 2020 and ten companies have now been launched from research in the Crick, each progressing discoveries from across cell therapy, vaccine, medical technology and small molecule therapeutics.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, the Crick and its staff were quick to respond to the challenges of the pandemic. Many research labs pivoted their work toward exploring different aspects of the virus and the disease it causes. Staff and volunteers quickly set up a COVID-19 testing pipeline for local healthcare staff, processing thousands of samples a week and helping protect 10 hospitals, many community and ambulance services, and 150 care homes. And for much of 2021, the Crick’s exhibition space was home to a vaccination centre where NHS staff and over 300 volunteers from the Crick and its partners delivered more than 80,000 COVID-19 vaccines.
“Our focus for the coming years will be on consolidating the Crick’s status as a world-class biomedical research institute, strengthening the multidisciplinary scientific approach together with our three university partners, expanding our support for the wider UK biomedical research endeavour and working with the Crick’s founders to ensure a sustainable future for the institute,” added Paul.