IMG_1372_editDr David Roblin, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Translation at the new Francis Crick Institute (the Crick), was the BIA’s guest speaker at a recent CEO dinner in Cambridge. In his owns words, David is an industrial scientist on this ‘forth yet back-ward’ successful career. We’ve rounded up some highlights from the evening in the blog below.

As we fast approach the date when the hotly-anticipated Francis Crick Institute (the Crick) becomes fully operational, we were delighted to have Dr David Roblin as our guest speaker at May’s BIA CEO Dinner in Hinxton.

David began by updating attendees on the Crick’s origins. The Institute is a consortium of six of the UK’s most successful scientific and academic organisations – the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK (CRUK), the Wellcome Trust, UCL (University College London), Imperial College London and King’s College London – who have a joint mission to create a world-class discovery institute extremely open to translation.

On 1 April 2015, the Crick reached an important milestone as researchers at the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research and CRUK’s London Research Institute became part of the Institute. Staff, who are currently working at their existing sites while construction of the institute’s new facilities are completed, will begin a phased move to the new building in early 2016. In a little under 24 months, they hope to have 1500 staff including 1250 scientists at their new start-of-the-art facility near King Cross Station in London.

At the very heart of the Crick’s philosophy is a commitment to the highest quality science.  David’s enthusiasm for ‘discovery without boundaries’, one of the Crick’s strategic priorities, is evident. He intends to attract the best of the best scientists, give them a 12 year window and provide the resources necessary to discover, translate and excel – while playing cupid… Part of his strategy to keep the science in the UK long term is the hope that the young and upcoming Crick scientists fall in love (with each other and/or London) and stay in the UK. The Crick also plans to have an ‘open door’ policy to engage and inspire the public and local schools.

David’s vision is one of close-distance translation, ensuring there are human insights into basic science at all stages and accelerating technology transfer, where the Crick intends to have a different model to ensure deals happen faster, at the right price and with the right partners. They want to ensure the science is accelerated into the right ‘capable hands’ to enable success. He plans to humanise the Crick with more clinicians, more access to human tissue and to fully exploit the widest interaction with patients through its networks and universities. The Crick will also be very open to beta-testing new technologies and products.  World-leading young scientists secure funding, new technologies and products, and an extensive ‘people’ network – a match truly made in heaven.

The team at the Crick intend to step-change translational research, make a fundamental difference to patients and attend a few weddings in due course! Yes, they acknowledge they will fail along the way – its science – but they intend to fail fast and efficiently.

The BIA will be working closely with David and the Crick team over the next few months and will be keeping members updated on their progress and news.