A look back on our first year

The end of the year is traditionally a time for reflection and setting plans for the future. Here at the Institute, we are doing exactly that, reflecting on our very first year of operation – and making very big plans for 2019 and beyond.

In just 12 months we have made enormous progress, in appointing a leadership team, marking important legal milestones with our formation and achieving charitable status, and appointing our Chair, Dr Vivienne Cox, and full board of trustees.  Our leadership team has also evolved, with Jim Naismith accepting the post of full Director, to start in 2019, and Andrew Livingston taking the reins as interim director. This legal and structural progress is essential for realising the ambition of the Institute.

The theme leaders at the Institute have spent 2018 with their communities, developing roadmaps which pursue projects and collaborations with the potential to break open new fields of science. Work got underway in several themes, with equipment production for our new pulsed source TEM for life science underway – a cornerstone technology for correlated imaging, and the first research paper published in structural biology.

The RFI team celebrate the signing of the joint venture agreement
Installation of the first equipment linked to the new pulsed source TEM.

Projects in Next Generation Chemistry for Medicine and Imaging with Sound and Light were given Institute backing, following consultation with the community in both academia and industry.

Each of the Institute themes is linked by the potential of their resulting technologies to see life in new ways, from single molecules to whole systems.  The strong links between the themes will be underpinned next year by key appointments in machine learning and AI –  a cross cutting theme which will enable the exploitation of data across the Institute.

The year comes to an end with another important piece of paperwork in place – the planning permission for the new hub at Harwell. This building, which will break ground in spring, will be home to our technologies and leadership teams, and will become a natural home for life science innovation. It will house world-leading spaces for microscopy, spectrometry, and biochemistry, with space for collaborative work and innovation between industry and academia.

As well as the building, 2019 will also bring new appointments to our rapidly expanding team, and new research and collaborations with our joint venture partners and the wider community.  In our themes, new senior leaders will take on the roadmaps for each theme – working to make the Institute home to the technologies which will revolutionise life science.

We hope you agree it’s been a remarkable year for the Institute, one which sets the course and scale of ambition for our work. Thank you to all of our partners, those in our joint venture, from industry large and small, and to our funders, for their huge support. We look forward to 2019.

Artists impression of the Rosalind Franklin Institute. Courtesy of IBI.