Duke of York opens £54million institute at Royal Free Hospital to fight HIV and cancer

PUBLISHED: 16:04 10 June 2013 | UPDATED: 18:56 10 June 2013

HRH The Duke of York opens the new institute at the Royal Free Hospital. Picture: Polly Hancock

HRH The Duke of York opens the new institute at the Royal Free Hospital. Picture: Polly Hancock


Prince Andrew officially opened part of a £54million research centre at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead today.

HRH The Duke of York touring the newly built department. Picture: Polly HancockHRH The Duke of York touring the newly built department. Picture: Polly Hancock

The Duke of York, who is patron of the hospital and the Royal Free charity, unveiled a plaque commemorating the occasion after touring the newly built University College London Institute of Immunity and Transplantation.

The new centre treats patients with conditions affecting their immune system.

In a speech to researchers, doctors and medical staff, Prince Andrew said: “The institute is a collaboration of clinical science and patient care, brought together under one roof in this research facility.

“It will make a real difference on a global scale. I always enjoy coming here [to the Royal Free Hospital] to see the fantastic work everyone does.”

Patient Claudia Finlay in a treatment bay. Picture: Polly HancockPatient Claudia Finlay in a treatment bay. Picture: Polly Hancock

The research centre, a partnership between University College London and the Royal Free Hospital, is the first phase of a larger project to build over 3,500sqm of space for clinical trials, world-leading laboratories, office space and meeting rooms.

The hospital and its charity have already raised £7million of funding, which allowed the first phase of the development.

Representatives from the hospital announced at the official opening that the institute has recently received £11million of funding towards the development of the second phase.

But more money still needs to be raised to reach the £47million target.

Chief executive of the Royal Free charity, Chris Burghes, said: “To have the first phase open is fantastic for the hospital and the charity. It will make a significant difference.”

Chief executive of the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, David Sloman, said: “The institute brings together clinical services, research and teaching under outstanding leadership at the cutting edge of clinical research.

“As our patron, the Duke has been a supporter and advocate of staff at the hospital and it was great for six patients at the new institute to meet him.”

Patients with cancer and long-lasting illnesses such as HIV will be treated at the centre, where they will be able to participate in clinical trials and gain access to the latest treatments.

Experts also hope to cure chronic conditions such as diabetes with one-off treatments.

Claudia Finlay, 58, was one of six patients with immune deficiencies receiving infusions intravenously on the opening day in one of the centre’s treatment wards.

Ms Finlay, who comes in for treatment at the Royal Free Hospital every three weeks, described the Duke as “well-informed and very interested” in the institute.

She said: “It was really nice of him to open the unit. I think the new facilities are marvellous but it will take time to settle in.”

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