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Opening our new Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building

The University of Warwick’s new £54.3m Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building (IBRB) is now complete, bringing to life the University’s commitment to delivering world-leading research in neuroscience, microbiology and infection, cell biology, and disease models, supporting and facilitating interdisciplinary biomedical research of the highest quality. The new building will also create a dynamic teaching and learning environment for life sciences students and those studying medicine at Warwick.

The IBRB is our most environmentally sustainable building on campus to date, surpassing the award-winning credentials of the Sports and Wellness Hub and demonstrating the University’s continued commitment to addressing the climate emergency. The building has been completed to a “world-class”, industry-leading standard with 50% of the development comprising offsite manufactured components, such as a pre-cast frame, mega-riser, timber frame and cladding; this approach simplifies the project’s logistics and improves its sustainability credentials by reducing the carbon footprint. The project also includes the installation of over 390 vertical PV solar panels; this offsets approximately 4,600kg CO2 emissions. Once in operation, Willmott Dixon’s Energy SynergyTM process will also be applied to the building to bridge the performance gap and drive down energy costs. Throughout the project, the contractor has also studied the project’s embodied carbon lifecycle which is supporting the University’s plans to achieve net-zero carbon from direct emissions by 2030.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Croft said:

"Three years ago we announced our intention to invest over £50 million in a new state-of-the-art research building to bring together up to 300 biomedical researchers from across the University of Warwick’s School of Life Sciences and Warwick Medical School to help research and advance human health and fight diseases. Completing that building in this most challenging of years of a global pandemic makes that achievement of our staff and Willmott Dixon all the more praiseworthy, and the context of the ongoing pandemic says more than I possibly can about how crucial such an investment is in our biomedical research."

Thanks to a £750,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation, the IBRB includes state-of-the art laboratory space - the Wolfson Tissue Mechanobiology and Human Disease Laboratory, where researchers will investigate how cells and tissues perform mechanical functions. Their work will impact our understanding of a wide range of diseases, from cancer to brittle bones and heart conditions, positively impacting our ability to fight human diseases.

Find out more from some of the researchers who will be using the IBRB and what they are hoping to achieve

Nicole Robb, Assistant Professor at Warwick Medical School said:

"I’m really excited for the IBRB to open! My lab has recently joined Warwick and we can’t wait to move into this state-of-the-art building. Our work is at the interface of biology and physics, and one of the best things about the IBRB is that it will be home to a community of scientists in many different fields. This will provide a truly interdisciplinary place of research, with superb facilities and many opportunities to collaborate."

Meera Unnikrishnan, Associate Professor at Warwick Medical School said:

"For my group and I moving to the IBRB is exciting as we will be co-located with colleagues with complementary research interests on a floor dedicated to Microbiology and Infection. We are looking forward to having better space, new equipment and the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues on interdisciplinary research projects. In my role as outreach lead for the School, the space will also provide a great venue to put on public engagement events such as ‘Science on the Hill’ and showcase both the building and the science undertaken on Gibbet Hill campus.”

Mohan Balasubramanian, Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, said:

“I’m excited that the IBRB will support and facilitate interdisciplinary biomedical research of the highest quality across cell biology, neuroscience, microbiology and infection, and disease models.

The new building will allow my team to build on their existing world-class research in cell and developmental biology. Thanks to the Wolfson Foundation’s support, we can hit the ground running in modern and extremely well-equipped laboratories.”

Lorenzo Frigerio, Head of School (Life Sciences), said:

“It has been very exciting to see IBRB being built and we are thrilled that it is now complete. IBRB is a fantastic addition to our research buildings at Gibbet Hill: it will host a truly interdisciplinary research community to tackle key global health challenges, and it will be a great environment for us to deliver research-led teaching to our students."

Inside the IBRB

The IBRB has five-storeys of laboratories, each floor representing a different theme: neuroscience, infection, cell biology/development, plus a 400-seat lecture theatre

and collaborative learning and social spaces.

This will build on our existing world-class research in neuroscience, microbiology and infection, cell biology, and disease models, supporting and facilitating interdisciplinary biomedical research of the highest quality.

A digital tour of the IBRB is coming soon.

Find out more from the Wolfson Foundation

The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity with a focus on research and education. Its aim is to support civil society by investing in excellent projects in science, health, heritage, humanities and the arts.

Since it was established in 1955, some £1 billion (£2 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 14,000 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review.

Paul Ramsbottom, Wolfson’s Chief Executive, said:

“Warwick has a highly impressive and growing research strength in mechanochemical cell biology, and we were delighted to be able to continue a long relationship with the University by funding new laboratory space for this strand of research. We are impressed by the ambition of Warwick’s research infrastructure: state-of-the-art spaces, environmentally friendly and supporting research of the highest quality.”

Nick Preedy, Operations Manager, at Willmott Dixon, said:

"Using offsite and modern methods of construction not only helped us to improve the sustainability and carbon footprint of the development, but the factory build environment also allowed us to have better quality control, a reduced strain on specialist trades and fewer site deliveries. This, in turn, benefitted the local community by ensuring the local roads of Coventry and the university were much quieter.”

James Breckon, Director of Estates at The University of Warwick, said:

"This fantastic building has been delivered during exceptional times and is testament to the tenacity and commitment shown by all those involved in designing and building it from the construction industry. The strategy taken in using modern methods of construction and a strong focus on sustainability and safety has paid off. The building is an excellent addition to the campus at Gibbet Hill, with the architecture and public realm massively enhancing the environment for our students and staff. I look forward with excitement to hear about the purposeful research and development that will carried out within this building."