University of Leicester announces record £7m donation

Published: 9-Aug-2012

To be used to build a biomarker research centre and fund studies into cardiovascular disease

The University of Leicester has been given a £7m donation – the biggest since the University was established in 1921.

The donation, which has come from the John and Lucille van Geest Foundation, will be used to build a new £2.5m Biomarker Facility next to the University’s Cardiovascular Research Centre at Glenfield Hospital.

In this facility, University of Leicester scientists aim to discover new biomarkers – unique chemical traces that can be used for the diagnosis and prognosis of disease, as well as monitoring of treatments given to patients. It will be equipped with three mass spectrometers to measure proteins, lipids and other molecules that may be involved in cardiovascular disease, as well as powerful computers which are able to handle the large amounts of data for each patient, to find those particular features that are associated with the disease, thus paving the way for the development of personalised medicines.

Initially the research will be concentrating on heart failure and coronary artery disease.

In addition, £4.5m will be used to create the van Geest Foundation Heart and Cardiovascular Diseases Research Fund, which will allow researchers from the University of Leicester to compete for funding for studies that will advance research into cardiovascular disease.

Leicester University vice-chancellor Professor Sir Robert Burgess said: ‘We are delighted that the trustees of the John and Lucille van Geest Foundation have chosen to support the University with this transformational gift which will benefit society through new advances in research knowledge.’

‘We are rightly proud of our world changing heart research team and the Foundation’s unprecedented donation will enable the University of Leicester to deliver a step change in cardiovascular research capacity that will help to improve the health and life expectation of patients and the public in Leicestershire, the UK and ultimately internationally.’

Professor Nilesh Samani, British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiology and Head of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester, added: ‘In Leicester we are very fortunate to have a world class genetics approach to understanding the fundamentals of cardiovascular disease. This gift will enable us to understand what happens beyond the genome and hopefully combine these technologies to yield novel tools for clinical use which ultimately benefits patients.’

Cardiovascular disease is a major health problem in the UK causing nearly 200,000 deaths annually. In the East Midlands, this problem is about 25% higher than the national average.

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