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A building project to extend the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology building with a new floor will create much needed space for the Institute to expand, particularly in the areas of data science and clinical trials.

Building work on the Kennedy roof
The new floor will enable the Institute to expand its data science and clinical trials programmes

Housing more than 25 research groups, the Kennedy Institute is at the forefront of research in the areas of immunity and microbiome, inflammation biology, and tissue remodelling and regeneration. Approximately 200 researchers, support staff and students work towards making fundamental discoveries about biological processes that help in the understanding of inflammatory and degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer.

A strategic objective of the Institute is to accelerate understanding of these diseases through the application of data science-based approaches complementing its long-established lab-based research. The Institute has invested substantially in this area, building a core of expertise and technologies encompassing single cell genomics, statistical genetics, microbial genomics, computational biology and clinical trials.

"In order to deliver our scientific mission we are becoming increasingly reliant on data science-based approaches that generate and make sense of vast quantities of information about biological processes and their link to disease. The additional floor space, together with other building reconfigurations, allows us to expand our data science and clinical trials programmes, and will be crucial as we take forward research across the Institute," said Professor Fiona Powrie, Director of the Kennedy Institute.

The new floor will create "dry lab" space for computationally intensive tasks, as well as offices for management of clinical trials, to enable the appointment of up to 65 new staff over the next five years. The new floor will also be fitted with new meeting space to facilitate easy sharing of knowledge and expertise across disciplines. The project is due for completion in November 2020.

Fiona said: "That we are in a position to significantly extend and expand the Institute just seven years after the Kennedy building opened illustrates our success in building a thriving research community since the Institute moved to Oxford. I am very grateful to the Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research and the University of Oxford for their financial support for the building work that is crucial as the Institute moves into this next phase."

Professor Gavin Screaton, Head of the University of Oxford's Medical Sciences Division, said: "Millions of people are affected by degenerative diseases that can make everyday tasks painful and difficult. This new development at the Kennedy Institute will provide the space for data-driven research in the field and place Oxford at the heart of understanding the root causes of these diseases."

"The Kennedy Trust has been delighted to support the expansion of the Kennedy building, which will help consolidate the Institute's position at the forefront of musculoskeletal, immunology and inflammation research," said Professor Stephen Holgate, Chair of the Kennedy Trust. "The requirement for additional space is a testament to the volume and quality of world-class research emanating from the Institute's dedicated staff and students."