The fundraising drive is the most ambitious the University has ever undertaken and the target was reached six months ahead of schedule, entirely through philanthropic donations and fantastic support from local and international communities.
A total of £26.7m was raised and the extra funding will go to the Cancer Immunology Talent Fund that has been set up to support the people who are driving forward the pioneering research.
With construction complete and the teams of scientists moving into the new building, University alumna Sarah Buchan, a Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow, is clear about what the new Centre means to her and her colleagues and its potential for interdisciplinary teams to expand clinical trials and develop more lifesaving drugs.
“This is a very exciting time to be involved in cancer research at Southampton. The new CCI building provides not just state-of-the-art facilities, but also brings together world-leading scientists with a common goal to improve cancer immunotherapy,” she says.
“Being together under one roof will act as a catalyst to foster new and stronger collaborations. The design of the building promotes a community feel and in my first few days here, I have already spoken to several people I have never met before.”
The University has an international reputation in the field of cancer research built on 40 years of pioneering work, and has made several breakthroughs in the last decade in tumour immunology and immunotherapy. The new Centre will raise the profile of Southampton even further for its ‘bench to bedside’ results: translating laboratory research into patient clinics.
Clinical trials based at the Centre are supported by large teams of scientists who are investigating precisely how immunotherapeutic antibodies work. For example, for an antibody invented in the Southampton labs and now in Phase II clinical trials, the Antibody and Vaccine Group recently revealed how targeting a specific location on the surface of a molecule made by some immune cell-types can boost immunity against cancer. Click here to read more.
Centre Director, Professor Tim Elliott who studied for a PhD in cancer immunology at the University, is delighted.
I am proud to be spearheading a world-class team in the UK’s first centre dedicated to cancer immunology research, at such an exciting time in cancer immunology developments.
He continues: “By attracting the best talent and collaborating across disciplines, we will push the boundaries of knowledge about how our immune system works against cancer and accelerate towards more life-saving cancer treatments.”
Sarah says all of the scientists are so grateful to each and every one of the people that contributed to the massive fundraising effort.
“All this wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of our supporters. It is humbling and also very inspiring for those of us who are working in the new Centre to have this level of support from the wider community,” she comments.
Sarah did her biology degree at Southampton which ignited her interest in immunology. Her PhD, also at Southampton, investigated killer T cells – the foot soldiers of the immune system – and it is these cells she is continuing to research in her current post.
To find out more about the Centre for Cancer Immunology visit www.southampton.ac.uk/youreit
To find out more about Sarah’s research visit www.southampton.ac.uk/youreit/sarahs-story