22 November 2023

UK Government backs Fleming Centre to fight threat of drug resistant infections


The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that £5million will be made available to the Fleming Centre – a partnership between Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

The announcement was made in the 2023 Autumn Statement today (Wednesday 22 November), as part of a suite of funding aimed at bolstering the UK’s life sciences sector.

Due to open in 2028, the centre will be based at the St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, where the first antibiotic was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928.

Chaired by Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, the Fleming Centre will combine cutting edge research, public engagement, and work with policymakers to drive a global change to fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

An appeal to build the centre launched earlier this year, with His Royal Highness Prince William, The Prince of Wales as Patron.

The latest funding will help to further develop the plans for the Centre and support its aims, ultimately helping to ensure antimicrobial medicines can continue to keep the world safe.

AMR is an urgent global public health threat and occurs when the microorganisms which cause infection develop resistance to treatments (such as antibiotics and antifungals), leading to an increase in drug-resistant infections.

AMR already kills over one million people around the world each year and is a growing challenge in treating infections such at tuberculosis. The aim of the Fleming Centre is to put society at the heart of solving this problem.

Jeremy Hunt MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “2028 marks the centenary of the invention of penicillin by Alexander Fleming and I’m giving £5m to Imperial College and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to set up a Fleming Centre to inspire the next generation of world changing innovations.”Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham said: “I am delighted the Chancellor has recognised the importance of tackling antimicrobial resistance and investing in the Fleming Centre. This £5 million funding will help to develop our plans and unlock further funding and support to address this global challenge.”

Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest challenges facing society, and this seed funding from the UK government makes its intention clear. The Fleming Centre will bring together academic, clinical and policy expertise across Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to tackle this problem head on.”

Professor Tim Orchard, Chief Executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “This funding is vital investment into the Fleming Centre and our efforts, alongside our partners at Imperial College London, to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing healthcare systems around the world. The centre will be a key element of Paddington Life Sciences, our wider partnership with Imperial College London, as well as our local community and life and data science businesses based around St Mary’s Hospital, to create a thriving ecosystem for research and innovation.”

Professor Mary Ryan, Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise), said: “Solving major global health challenges like antimicrobial resistance requires collaboration and innovation. Working with our clinical partners at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust through the Fleming Centre, we will develop solutions in diagnostics, novel vaccines and new medicines that are co-designed with patients, the public policy makers and regulators.”

Professor Graham Cooke, Vice Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London and Honorary consultant at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Drug resistant infections are a very real clinical threat to patients in the UK and around the world. Only by working together with our clinical and academic partners will we be able to respond effectively. This seed funding is another small step towards the goal of the Fleming Centre.”

In order to effectively tackle AMR, global awareness and behaviour change is needed alongside rapid scientific advances. The aim of The Fleming Centre– is to put society at the heart of solving this problem.The centre is also a key part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust’s Paddington Life Sciences development, which aims to create a thriving ecosystem for life sciences research and innovation in north west London. For more information, visit the Fleming Centre website.