As the COVID-19 pandemic struck, additional facilities were required to ramp up the diagnostic testing capacity for the UK.
The Testing Alliance, set up by life sciences cluster MedCity, brought together world-leading universities, healthcare institutes, industry and pathology service providers to help increase COVID-19 testing capacity by 20,500 per day.
Imperial’s contribution was launched at St Mary’s Campus and includes the UKAS accredited Molecular Diagnostic Unit (MDU), led by Professor Myra McClure, and Professor Paul Freemont’s existing high-throughput robotic platform for RNA extraction.
This expanded facility created over fifty new positions, and joined Health Service Laboratories in partnership with UCL, King’s Health Partners, and Queen Mary University of London to form part of the Department of Health and Social Care’s partnership with MedCity’s London Testing Alliance.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, colleagues throughout Imperial have been doing all they can to make the world safer from COVID-19. I am delighted that, thanks to MedCity, Imperial has been able to come together with our peer institutions in London to help meet the critical need for increased COVID-19 testing capacity.” Professor Alice Gast, Imperial President
Professor Paul Freemont had already re-purposed the high-throughput robotic platform to help NHS diagnostic labs avoid bottlenecks caused by increased demand for reagents. The platform is reagent-agnostic, providing flexibility to respond to supply disruptions, is highly scalable, and does not compete for access to commercial kits.
“We recognised early on that we needed to work shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues in the NHS to ensure we could get them something that was workable in their labs.” Professor Paul Freemont
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Imperial’s COVID-19 testing facility is supported by project management professionals from the Imperial Projects team. To discuss similar large-scale projects, please feel free to contact us.
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