The Centre – at the University’s Anne McLaren Building on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus – was created in April 2020 in collaboration with biopharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline to support the UK’s national testing effort.
In just five weeks, the combined expertise of the partners – including the University’s world-leading research – saw the building rapidly repurposed to create the lab, with innovative robots and automation installed as part of an operation that would usually take six months. Soon after its launch, the facility was brought into the Government’s national diagnostic lab network, the largest in UK history.
Hundreds of volunteers from across the three organisations, including researchers from the University, were among staff who worked tirelessly during the Centre’s first phase to scale up the diagnostic process at an unprecedented speed. Since then, along with new collaborations with Primerdesign, part of the international diagnostics company Novacyt, and Charles River Laboratories, in Phase 2, the focus has been on further optimising the high-throughput testing using the world-class skills, knowledge and exceptional research made available through the partnership.
Professor Andy Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations at the University of Cambridge, said: “The dedication and determination of all those involved in the creation of the Cambridge COVID-19 Test Centre, from the volunteers who were instrumental in its launch, to those who have driven its innovation, has been inspiring. Their efforts in the fight against COVID-19 have been critical, and the new ways of thinking and working developed have helped strengthen the UK’s diagnostics capability and will be key to managing events of this kind in the future, should they occur.”
Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge