Prince backs Royal Free Hopsital’s pioneering new research centre

The Royal Free Hospital has launched an appeal to raise �22million to become one of the world’s leading centres of immunology research.

If the ambitious project – backed by Prince Andrew – is realised, then the state-of-the-art centre will spearhead development into ways of bolstering the immune system to fight diseases such as HIV and cancer.

The extension to the Hampstead hospital will make it a leading light in its field as University College London’s top scientists team up with the Royal Free’s best clinicians.

Professor Hans Strauss, head of immunology at the Royal Free Hospital and UCL, says that the new facility will allow research to explore unchartered waters.

He said: “Our vision is to really work together to position ourselves as a national and international centre of excellence for research.”

Research teams will particularly focus on improving control of infectious diseases and exploring gene and cell therapy to treat conditions such as chronic infections, cancer and immune deficiency.

Prof Strauss said that the research would help to understand why the body failed to look after itself in certain cases of chronic viral infection.

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The centre will also provide more opportunities for research teams to have contact with and learn from patients and will aim to attract internationally renowned experts to work together on important research projects.

The hospital is already gearing up to start work on the first phase, building 750sqm of new research space by spring 2012.

But it needs �22million to realise its ambition of developing more than 3,500sqm of clinical space – an area for clinical trials which the hospital lacks – world-class laboratories, office space and seminar and meeting rooms by 2016.

Hospital chiefs have already obtained planning permission for the facility but the Royal Free Charity’s chief executive Chris Burghes says that the hospital has set aside up to four years to raise the money.

He hopes to win cash from trusts and charities but is also relying on the public to make the hospital the envy of Europe.

Speaking after the Duke of York launched the appeal at St James’ Palace on October 19, Mr Burghes said: “It’s a tough target but it’s more than achievable and we’re lucky to have the support of His Royal Highness.

“It gives us the credibility that it will happen.”

* If you would like to donate, contact the charity on 0207 472 6677 or email