(Photo copyright MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology)
As reported in a recent newsletter, the University has now taken over the old Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) buildings from the MRC and one part has had its name changed from the rather uninspiring ‘Block 7′ to the Clifford Allbutt Building, after the Regius Professor of Physic 1892-1925.
The origins of the former LMB date back to 1947 when the Medical Research Council set up a ‘Unit for Research on the Molecular Structure of Biological Systems’. This was housed in the Cavendish Laboratory where the Department of Physics had its home, and it was were Max Perutz and John Kendrew developed the use of X-ray diffraction to study proteins.
The Unit’s work expanded and diversified into areas that had medical applications, and so in 1962 the research lab moved to the new Addenbrooke’s site and became the LMB. (This exterior photograph was taken around that time). Since then, research output has been exciting – from the structure of DNA to the invention of the confocal microscope – and prolific, resulting in ten Nobel Prizes, including Fred Sanger (1958 and 1980), Max Perutz and John Kendrew (1962), Jim Watson and Francis Crick (1962) and most recently, Venki Ramakrishnan (2009).
Following minor refurbishment, it is expected that Clinical School research groups will start to occupy the Clifford Allbutt Building around Easter. Laboratory space is being provided for the new Professors of Stem Cell Medicine and Hypoxia Signalling as well as haematology and clinical neurosciences researchers. The building will eventually house up to 250 researchers for a few years, and very importantly provides the Clinical School with recruitment space whilst other new buildings are designed and completed. The former Max Perutz lecture theatre will become the Clifford Allbutt lecture theatre and will be used by the Clinical School.