The Francis Crick Institute – Open For Boundless Scientific Discovery

A photograph of the beautifully modern and sustainable Francis Crick Institute building, in central London, overlaid with a blue and white neon sign that says "OPEN". Image: NaturPhilosophieOpen For Science

At the heart of central London, opposite St Pancras’ International station, stands the new Francis Crick Institute – a working building with distinctive ultra-modern architecture.  Important science is being done here.  Life-changing science.

The Crick’s philosophy aims to deliver the highest quality of scientific research.

To achieve this, the Institute assembles the best and most creative among scientists from a range of multidisciplinary fields.  The building hosts 1,500 people with 94 science groups working on hundreds of different projects with the potential to transform lives.

Having so many disparate groups under one roof promotes collaboration and the rate of scientific advances.


Working Building

The new addition to London’s architecture aims to be environmentally sustainable.

An extensive use of glass in the design of the Francis Crick lab allows natural light to filter through the building.  All light fittings are energy-efficient.

During construction, enough waste and soil was removed to fill three Olympic swimming pools.  However, 99% of this soil was reused or recycled.

The building incorporates brown roofs where wild flowers and plants can grow.  It also includes bat boxes to encourage local urban wildlife.

There are over 180 staff bike racks for staff and visitors, instead of the customary car park.


Successful Scientific Organisations Together

The Crick Institute was founded by six of the UK’s most successful scientific and academic organisations, and draws on the distinctive strengths of each one of them.  These are:

  • Medical Research Council
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Welcome Trust
  • University College London
  • Imperial College London
  • King’s College


Over 450 peer-reviewed paper were published over the past year.


Insights and Life Science Discoveries

The Francis Crick Institute aims to discover the basic biology underlying human health and disease, taking an approach to biomedical research that fosters excellence, breaks down barriers between scientific disciplines, and works across institutions.

Cancer Treatments

Cancer treatments that harness the body’s own immune system offer great hope in a field where progress happens slowly.

Every year, 10,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with leukaemia – a type of blood cancer.  Almost half of them will die within 10 years of the diagnosis.

Recent research revealed that leukaemia cells move around rapidly in the body, making them treatment-resistant and more likely to survive.

Ultimately, the aim will be to stop this movement, opening up new avenues in the development of new and more effective therapies.


Immunotherapy, DNA and the Virtues of Aspirin

Since the early developments of chemotherapy in the 1940s, immuno-therapies are the latest bastion of  cancer research, and one that currently offers the most promise for new life-saving treatments.  

Although the immune system is important in fighting cancer, one type of immune cell actually helps cancer to spread.  Blocking this part of the immune system’s first response might help prevent cancer from spreading, Crick researchers have revealed.

According to research by Crick scientists, giving cancer patients aspirin at the same time as immunotherapy could drastically boost the effectiveness of the treatment.

Thus, the Crick’s mission is all about unlocking the potential of the immune system to make it work against the disease.

  • Antibody treatments can target cancer cells directly.

  • Vaccines derived from cancerous peptides are showing great promise.

  • Patients’own immune cells can be re-engineered to provide healing.

  • Neo-antigens flag post the tumour to the body’s defence system.

But as tumours mutate, neoantigens develop under the influence of chemotherapy and make it harder for immunity to keep track of cancer development.

There are always new challenges for life scientists at the Crick Institute…


Growing Scientific Interest

A modified slide from the movie "Cloudy, with a Chance of Hamburger": Genius inventor drops his jaw at the fast food rain he has triggered. And the Cocktail Party Physicist can be seen running for shelter in the background. Image: NaturPhilosophie
The Crick Institute regularly hosts movies with a scientific theme…

The research centre is strategically located in the heart of London, just outside the Eurostar transport hub.  But even more accessible is what the building offers to the scientifically-starved ones among us.

Engaging the public is a priority for the researchers at the Francis Crick Institute.

And the Crick’s Institute regularly showcases a number of exhibitions, public lectures and scientifically-themed film shows. 

Both the Francis Crick Institute’s high profile and international reputation, play an important role in generating public excitement and growing interest in science.

A “once-in-a-generation opportunity for the life and biomedical sciences”.