Building work can begin on a world leading research centre, which will advance our understanding of conditions including cancer and diabetes, after a contract for the construction was signed last week.

The Royal Free Charity and construction company Willmott Dixon put pen to paper after Camden Council gave the green light for work to commence.

The UCL Institute for Immunity and Transplantation, which will open in 2020, will bring together leading scientists, academic clinicians and clinical trials specialists to develop revolutionary treatments and therapies for patients. 

The Pears Building, which will house the institute, will be situated next to the Royal Free Hospital in London. It has been made possible through the largest ever fundraising effort by the Royal Free Charity, including a generous donation from the Pears Foundation. 

Chris Burghes, chief executive of the Royal Free Charity, said: “We have worked extremely hard to raise the funds for this vitally important research centre. Now we’ve reached this momentous point and construction work can begin. 

“In about 129 weeks we will have the most amazing building for the benefit of patients. It will be a fantastic facility that will make us all proud.

“This project is about looking ahead to the future of healthcare and better ways of treating diseases and conditions that affect people in our local community, as well as others around the UK and the rest of the world.”

Chris Tredget, managing director for Willmott Dixon in north London said, “This is an exciting moment for us. The Pears Building will revolutionise the ability to treat serious medical conditions like cancer and help reduce the amount of time it takes for new medicines to be available for people to use. We are proud to be using our skills for building world-class science and medical facilities to deliver this hugely important clinical research centre.” 

The Pears Building will combine NHS patient care with the latest developments in research to provide better treatments for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, HIV, and tuberculosis, and for traditional and tissue-developed transplants.

Designed by Hopkins Architects, building work will start in early March and is due for completion in 2020. Teams from the UCL Institute for Immunity and Transplantation, already working within the Royal Free Hospital, will then move into the purpose built centre to benefit from the facilities, space to expand and a better environment for patients undergoing treatment.

Back Row (standing) left to right;  Phil Cracknell, senior operations manager, Willmott Dixon; Gerry Ackerman, Royal Free Charity; Chris Burghes, chief executive, Royal Free Charity; Keith Davies, project director, Buro 4 Project Management.
Front Row (seated) left to right: Stewart Brundell, deputy managing director, Willmott Dixon; Jan Morgan, trustee, Royal Free Charity; Peter Owens, Pears Building project champion, Royal Free Charity.