The rise - and fall? - of the NIMR

Britain's science community has never seen anything quite like it.

Pat Hagan
Jan 16, 2005

Britain's science community has never seen anything quite like it. The Medical Research Council (MRC) is caught up in a damaging public row over the future of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), one of its flagship institutions.

MRC leaders think that the NIMR, which employs 700 people and has an annual budget of £27 million, should move into central London and merge with an existing university. The staff is furious that staying in the current location isn't being considered as an option. And now claims have surfaced that MRC chief executive Colin Blakemore threatened to fire a key NIMR scientist unless he agreed to the relocation plans – a charge Blakemore has angrily denied. The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is conducting an inquiry into how the whole affair has been handled.

It's not the first time the MRC has considered moving the facility, Blakemore points...