Reporter 431, 15 February 1999

Future shaped by new biology centre

A major new centre for structural biology is to be created at the University. The new North of England Structural Biology Centre (NESBIC) will provide a focus for research into the shape and function of biological molecules, including proteins and DNA.

The development will be funded by a £1.3m grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

NESBIC director Professor Simon Phillips said the investment would create one of the best facilities of its type in the country. "The field of structural biology is expanding so quickly that the research council wants to concentrate facilities and expertise in a limited number of centres of excellence," he said.

The new centre will enable researchers from medicine, chemistry, physics, and biochemistry and molecular biology to carry out vital research into new medicines.

Imaging equipment and electron microscopes in the new centre can reveal the atomic structure of chemicals targeted by drugs.

Current projects include medicines to counter hypertension, and help combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant super bugs.

NESBIC is being established as a joint project with the universities of Sheffield, Manchester and UMIST. The centre's facilities will be available to researchers from those institutions, as well as other members of the academic community and those from industry.

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