A NEW £8.5million science complex at Sunderland University has been officially launched by Lord Professor Robert Winston.
The top scientist, broadcaster and influential peer attended the opening of the centre, off Chester Road, which, it is claimed, will bring major health benefits to the North East.
University chiefs say the complex – part of a multimillion pound redevelopment of Sunderland’s City Campus – will deliver research with a “real world impact” in areas such as drug discovery, new therapies and improved health practices.
Lord Winston, pictured, said: “It’s wonderful – the labs are brilliantly set up. Students who come here will benefit from fantastic facilities and will get experience of using industry-standard equipment, which is very important.”
The peer, best known for popularising science and medicine on television, said science was an important area in the North East for improving health and creating new jobs in related industries.
He added: “Ensuring science is accessible and that research is relevant to society is vital. Sunderland, as it regularly shows, does this exceptionally well.”
Lord Winston took a tour of the new facilities with university Chancellor Steve Cram – who studied at the site in the 1980s – and Professor John MacIntyre, dean of applied sciences.
Sunderland University says the complex will allow businesses and organisations in the health sector further access to leading science experts and some of the most up-to-date facilities in the UK.
Mr Cram said the new science complex would help draw high-quality students and help avoid “brain drain” by encouraging scholars to stay in the North East help both improve the health of people in the region and the economy.
The university has links with chemical and pharmaceutical companies and also provides professional development programmes for NHS staff including clinical practice, stroke and heart failure management, infection control, mental health and Parkinson’s disease.
It is also helping with drug design and development, particularly in the areas of bacterial resistance, psoriasis, transplantation, cystinosis and cystic fibrosis.
Professor MacIntyre said: “The research and work that will be carried out in the new facility will complement the work of Newcastle Science City and will significantly develop our collaborations with key regional, national, and international partners.
“We are particularly keen to see our work used to help companies in the North East, who will partner with us to develop applications and products based on our science.”
Associate dean professor Tony Alabaster said the new centre was also a testament to Sunderland’s history in science and training pharmacists.
“We’re celebrating 100 years of science here, and 90 years of pharmacy education,” he said.