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07 Dec 2016

The University of Dundee has been awarded £13.6 million by Wellcome to establish a new research centre to tackle some of the world’s most devastating diseases. The Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research (CAIR) builds on world-leading work at the University’s Drug Discovery Unit and School of Life Sciences to find new drugs to treat neglected tropical diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and leishmaniasis.

These are diseases which affect millions of people and cause hundreds of thousands of deaths every year. They disproportionately affect the poor and cost developing economies billions of dollars. “This is a major boost from Wellcome for our research at Dundee, and will allow us to grow our capacity in drug discovery and development for neglected diseases,” said Professor Paul Wyatt, Director of CAIR and Head of DDU.

“It will also mean we can expand our international collaborations, catalyse new projects and provide resources to carry out drug discovery training for scientists from countries where these diseases are endemic.

“There is an urgent need to find new treatments for these diseases, where there is increasing resistance to old drugs. We are at the forefront of this global effort to find new therapeutics and this award from Wellcome will further strengthen our efforts.”

Last year researchers in the Drug Discovery Unit at Dundee announced the discovery of a new antimalarial compound with the potential to treat malaria patients in a single dose. It is now in clinical development.

The Wellcome award is part of a £118 million investment in major research centres over the next five years. The Wellcome Centres all aim to advance our understanding of health and disease, and span fundamental and social sciences, clinical research and engineering.

At Wellcome Centres groups of world-class researchers with a joint vision come together to share facilities, collaborate, and benefit from the dynamic research, cultural and training environment.  This special environment allows them to deliver world-leading research and high-impact translation. 

Dundee’s is the only new Centre created in Scotland. The Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology at the University of Glasgow had its funding renewed in 2014, and the Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology at the University of Edinburgh is among those renewed in this latest funding round.

Wellcome’s Director Dr Jeremy Farrar said, “Wellcome Centres play a special role in the global research ecosystem. By creating places where researchers can flourish we can catalyse world-leading research and translation, and amplify its influence and impact.

“At Wellcome we believe in long term support for discovery-driven science, and Wellcome Centres are an outstanding environment for researchers to further our understanding of fundamental biology, accelerate translation to clinical practice, and explore the social and cultural context of medicine."