£23 million Centre for Virus Research officially opened

Published: 28 September 2015

A new £23 million facility for virus research has been officially opened by Professor Sir Mark Walport FRS, Chief Scientific Adviser, HM Government.

A new £23 million facility for virus research has been officially opened at the University of Glasgow by Professor Sir Mark Walport FRS, Chief Scientific Adviser, HM Government.Sir Michael Stoker Building

The Sir Michael Stoker Building is home to the Medical Research Council–University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR), and was funded by the University, MRC and a Wellcome-Wolfson Capital Award.

The building houses cutting-edge facilities including state-of-the-art laboratories, offices and social spaces and supports the world-leading scientific research by the UK’s largest grouping of human and veterinary virologists.

More than 20 principal investigators, and their associated teams, make up the research core of the CVR with a total staff and student complement in excess of 180 people. The mission of the CVR is to generate new knowledge and understanding of viruses and viral diseases of humans and animals for the improvement of health and benefit of society. Researchers in the CVR work with colleagues in the University, Health Protection Scotland and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, thus creating a critical mass of scientists dedicated to the study of human and animal viral diseases.  

The impressive building, located at the University’s Garscube Campus, was constructed by Laing O’Rourke and forms a striking landmark on the estate. It takes its name from Sir Michael Stoker, the first Chair of Virology at the University of Glasgow and in the UK, and  one of the country’s most pre-eminent post-war scientists.

The official opening was carried out by Professor Sir Mark Walport FRS, at a ceremony on Monday 28 September, which also saw five CVR staff members receive the Ebola Medal for Service in West Africa, the first campaign medal awarded by the UK Government for a humanitarian crisis response.

The Ebola Medal, approved by Her Majesty The Queen, recognises the bravery and hard work of thousands of people who helped to tackle Ebola in West Africa. The CVR recipients all worked in Ebola virus diagnostic laboratories in Sierra Leone during the outbreak.

The recipients are Dr Caroline Chauche, Dr Christopher Davis, Miss Gillian Slack, Dr Agnieszka Szemiel, Dr Navapon Techakriengkrai.

A sixth recipient, Dr Steve Welch, has since completed his PhD at the CVR and moved to a postdoctoral position at the Centres for Disease Control in the USA.

Professor Massimo Palmarini, Director of the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, said: “The CVR is now fully operational in the magnificent new Sir Michael Stoker Building.  The facilities we have here provide us with the very best environment in which to conduct our research and the building is a fitting tribute to the legacy of Sir Michael Stoker.

“Infectious diseases, many of which are viral in origin, continue to impose a major burden on healthcare resources and are responsible for the death of 15 million people each year. CVR scientists investigate human and animal viruses at all scales, from their genes and proteins to the paths they take through populations.”

“We tackle questions such as: can we predict the emergence of ‘new’ viruses? Can we develop better tools to diagnose virus infections? Can we develop vaccines for Hepatitis C? How can we control mosquito-borne viral diseases such as Dengue?”

Professor Anna Dominiczak, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, said: “We are delighted with the support we have received from the MRC, and the Wellcome-Wolfson Capital Award, which has enabled us to create this excellent new research hub.  The new building is a testament to the long and distinguished history of virology research in Glasgow and provides the ideal environment in which to tackle the challenges of the future.

“We are also very proud of our inspirational colleagues who gave their time and effort to help tackle the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and are delighted that their contribution has been recognised through the award of the Ebola Medal for Service in West Africa.”

Media enquiries: ross.barker@glasgow.ac.uk / 0141 330 8593

First published: 28 September 2015