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1 November, 2007 - 15:40 By Staff Reporter

IFR in pole for UK food-health hub

The Institute of Food Research is on the verge of winning its battle to stay in Norwich following the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s (BBSRC) decision in principle that research from the Institute should be brought more closely alongside that of the University of East Anglia.

With a final decision expected in December, Norfolk is just weeks away from becoming home to a world-leading UK ‘Centre for Food and Health,’ designed to tackle major diet-related public health issues in the UK and based on a restructured IFR, currently the UK’s only integrated basic science provider focused on food.

BBSRC announced it was keen to create a new diet and health centre of excellence by linking IFR to a university earlier this year. UEA was the clear favourite, though the BBSRC said it would first need to meet certain criteria without which other universities would be considered.

It has now welcomed progress made through discussions between the Institute and the University, though many details remained to be finalised in discussion with BBSRC and other interested parties to agree a Heads of Terms prior to a final decision being made.

Further governance decisions to be made include whether IFR will transfer directly into the University – a transfer of assets and staff – or whether it stays under BBSRC control and becomes ‘embedded’ into UEA.

“Either way the science will benefit from the co-location of IFR and university researchers under the same roof,” says Paul Burrows, head of strategic planning at BBSRC – IFR’s sponsor and the UK’s principal funder of basic and strategic biological research.

Other detailed governance arrangements on topics such as staff numbers, management arrangements and location options for the new centre are under discussion.

So are consultations to fill out the team’s ‘shared science vision’ for a new enlarged centre able to deliver high quality fundamental and strategic research to understand the relationship between food, diet and the optimisation of individual health.

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