The Francis Crick Institute is an organisation dedicated to uniting science and scientists. When completed this will be the largest biomedical research centre in Britain

Uniting Science & Scientists

Here on a piece of land behind St Pancras Station in London, a fresh attempt at the perfect mix is under way.

Building to unite science and scientists
Building to bring science and scientists together

This is no ordinary building site. This is what will become the Francis Crick Institute. A ground breaking new scientific institution, aimed at bringing science and scientists together.

Professor Sir Paul Nurse

At the helm of this new project is the president of the Royal Society, Professor Sir Paul Nurse. And he’s determined that this will be the best of both worlds. A place that will give the public what they want from science, whilst also giving unprecedented freedom to the inquiring mind.

Well, the scale of this building is a thing that surprises me.

Sir Paul Nurse “It’s immense. It really is immense. As you go up, we’ve got about three floors of laboratories on this side, four on the other. But you can spot everybody because in the atrium in the middle. And this will be the cafeteria for up to 1,500 researchers.”

Sir Paul Nurse
Sir Paul Nurse

When completed in 2015, this will be the largest biomedical research centre in Britain. And uniquely, engineers, physicists, chemists and biologists will all work together under one roof.

Sir Paul Nurse “I want to produce something like a sort of creative anarchy. I’m not going to divide all these up into different departments. They are all going to be mixing together. And I’m hoping that will spark off something new.”

So the architecture reflects not only the philosophy, but the way that you think science should be done?

Science and Scientists

Sir Paul Nurse “It really does that. We wanted many different scientists to work together. The building is designed to produce exactly that.”

By allowing all disciplines to mix together, this building will offer immense creative freedom for those blue-skies thinkers. But everyone will also share the targeted goal of delivering useful science to the British public.

Sir Paul Nurse “It’s a biomedical research Institute and it will do discovery science to work out how living organisms, living things work, but always with the objective of what relevance will that be to medical problems.”

I think this idea of undirected creativity, but with a purpose in mind, which, as you say, is to understand life, living things, that’s important, isn’t it?

Sir Paul Nurse “Look, good science is done by great individuals with a creative vision about what they’re trying to do. If you direct them too much top-down, you never get that creativity. You know, you can’t tell a Picasso what to paint. Picasso will have a creative idea and want to get it himself. It’s the same for a scientist.”

The Francis Crick Institute

Space will be provided at the Francis Crick Institute for scientists to make serendipitous discoveries, whilst also giving society medical research that will change the world.

Francis Crick Institute
Francis Crick Institute

The story of Science Britannica is, in many respects, the story of science itself. This collection of rocks in the North Atlantic has produced far more than its fair share of world-class scientists. And has been the scene of more discoveries and inventions than any nation could reasonably expect.

That it happened here is partly serendipitous. The fact that the likes of Robert Boyle, Humphry Davy and Isaac Newton were born here is down to chance. That they were able to thrive here is not.

The establishment of our ancient universities, where all these great scientists were educated, together with the formation of the great institutions of science, the Royal Society and the Royal Institution, have all ensured that Britain is a place where science and scientists continue to be celebrated.

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