New diabetes research centre 'vote of confidence in UK science'

Novo Nordisk has announced that it is to invest £115 million in a new diabetes research centre at Oxford University in a boost for the UK's R&D standing.

New diabetes research centre 'vote of confidence in UK science'
Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceuticals giant, has announced that it is to invest £115 million in a new diabetes research centre at Oxford University in, what has been hailed as, a boost for the UK's R&D standing in the world.Although the company said there remained “uncertainties” over the UK's position after it leaves the European Union, a spokesman said the firm had decided to go ahead with the 10-year investment programme that will eventually employ 100 academics and scientists working on new ways to treat Type 2 diabetes.Mads Thomsen, Novo Nordisk's executive vice-president and chief science officer, told the BBC, “Obviously, we think the Brexit decision was unfortunate. That being said, Oxford University has been around for 800 years so the academic excellence and our company's ability to turn that into medicines hasn't really changed.”

The UK – 'a world-leader in research'

David Gauke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, described the investment decision as “a vote of confidence in the UK's position as a world-leader in science and research”.The new facility will be headed by Prof James D Johnson, a world-renowned researcher in the fundamental biology of pancreatic islets, insulin action, diabetes and related conditions.Mr Thomsen said, “This collaboration brings together some of the world's sharpest minds in the field of diabetes to seek new targets for therapeutic innovation. It combines Novo Nordisk's 90 years' experience in developing treatments for diabetes with the expertise of world-leading scientists from the University of Oxford.“Our vision is that the unique combination of industrial and academic know-how will eventually lead to a new generation of treatments to improve the lives of people with Type 2 diabetes.”

The importance of collaboration

Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford, added, “This collaboration underlines the importance of shared research and cutting-edge science across boundaries.“Employees at Novo Nordisk Research Centre Oxford and researchers at the University of Oxford will have the opportunity for daily interaction to share knowledge and insights that will potentially produce new medicines for people living with Type 2 diabetes and its complications.”
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One potential hurdle to the fruits of the labours at the new research centre is that the European Medicines Agency, currently based in London and responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring in the EU of medicines, is likely to relocate – along with 900 jobs – when Britain leaves the EU.Mr Thomsen said, “We are very happy with the way the European Medicines Agency has worked and everybody is disappointed that it is likely it will have to leave the UK. We hope as many of the current 900 staff as possible will follow it to its new home in the EU as it is in everyone's interest that there is as little disruption as possible for the journey of new medicines to patients.”

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