New research institute aims to advance UK's life sciences sector

The Rosalind Franklin Institute, which will bring about transformative changes in life science, has been officially launched, and the University of Leeds is a key partner.

Driven by five scientific themes, the Institute will develop unique techniques and tools which can be applied to biological problems. Much of this research will also incorporate robotics, and will call upon the expertise within the Faculty of Engineering.

The University of Leeds is one of 11 founders of the new £103m research institute.

Professor Adam Nelson, from Leeds’ Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology and School of Chemistry, will be leading on the Next-Generation Chemistry theme.

Speaking on the project, Professor Nelson said: “This won’t be a traditional chemistry lab. It will use robotics and artificial intelligence to automate the discovery process. It will allow hundreds or thousands of candidate molecules to be investigated at a time, and we aim to increase productivity by five to 10 times.

“But faster processing isn’t enough. We also want to find higher-quality starting points for drug discovery to maximise the chances of success at later stages in the pipeline. This will enable the UK to remain globally competitive in bringing new drugs to the market that can meet the needs of patients.”

Through interdisciplinary research, collaboration with industry and development of new technologies, the Rosalind Franklin Institute will play a key role in advancing the UK’s life sciences sector.

Further information

The Rosalind Franklin Institute is an independent organisation, formed through a joint venture between UK Research and Innovation, which encompasses the country’s research councils and the Science and Technology Funding Council, and the 10 university partners: 

  • University of Leeds

  • University of Oxford

  • University of Cambridge

  • Imperial College London

  • Kings College London

  • University College London

  • University of Manchester

  • University of Birmingham

  • University of Edinburgh 

  • University of Southampton

For more information, visit the Rosalind Franklin Institute at