Biodiscovery Bdg

The University of Nottingham celebrates 20 years of groundbreaking research at the Biodiscovery Institute

Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Leaders in science, healthcare and industry, along with members of parliament, have come together to mark 20 years of research that has taken place at the University of Nottingham’s Biodiscovery Institute (BDI).

Diagnosing, treating and curing disease is the mission of the BDI, and as the largest research facility at the University, this flagship £100m Institute is a place where 850 staff and students carry out cutting edge science to shape the future of health and biotechnology.

Yesterday (20 May) saw an event to celebrate 20 years since it first opened its doors, becoming a world-leading hub of interdisciplinary research excellence. Watched by 350 people, Professor Dame Melanie Welham, former Chair of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), unveiled a plaque to mark the milestone.

During the celebration, guests were treated to a ‘movie premier’ viewing of a drone flying through the BDI, showcasing the incredible facilities available. The film – available on YouTube here – highlights the prime location of the BDI in the ‘science quarter’ location of the University Park Campus, with a skybridge link to Queen’s Medical Centre and its 1,700 beds. This close association enables the BDI to tackle six areas of global importance, such as antimicrobial resistance, cancer, climate change and illnesses, including the Black Death.

The team at the BDI were also at the frontline of the Covid-19 fight in the early days of the pandemic, by collaborating with the army, navy and air force to provide equipment to support the national effort in allowing more testing. They went on to develop saliva testing, which enabled the labs within the Institute to provide a fully accredited University of Nottingham Covid-19 Asymptomatic Testing Service.

The 850 talented academics, researchers, clinicians and support staff who work in the BDI have generated £500 million in funding since 2014 and established 10 new companies since 2022, currently valued at over £100 million.

Our mantra is that metrics are gold, but people are diamonds – today, our team sparkled in public. But it is their daily motivation, curiosity and dogged determination that continually pushes the boundary of the art of the possible. They create an incredible research culture that drives technologies to benefit human, animal and planetary health. It is an absolute privilege to be the Director collaborating with so many talented colleagues.”
Chris Denning is a Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Director of the BDI

Professor Tom Rodden, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University, said: “The BDI is something everyone at Nottingham can be proud of and it was great to come together with colleagues to mark 20 years since it first opened today. Tackling cancer, climate change and antimicrobial resistance are just a few of the areas of global importance the teams based at the BDI are tackling on a daily basis, and we can only watch in awe to see where the next 20 years takes them.”

Key research taking place at the BDI:


  • Defeating cancer within the Centre for Cancer Sciences, which specialises in research into the prevention, diagnoses and treatment. This Centre launched the world’s first Cancer Sciences biomedical degree in 2020, which focuses on cancer from day one.
  • Explaining biomolecular complexity. The team use state-of-the-art equipment to understand why biological and chemical molecules behave the way they do - from analysing blood clotting disorders to looking at the intricacies of high value spider silk production.
  • Engineering biology. The team engineer microbes to make useful products from greenhouse gases, waste products and low cost feedstocks.The work being done has the potential to make clean, sustainable and affordable products including transport fuels, useful chemicals, animal feed, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, and in turn reduce societal reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Pioneering therapeutics. Projects include identifying new approaches for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and cancer, as well as immunotherapy cancer treatments and eye drops that reverse degeneration of sight. 
  • Regenerating and modelling tissues. The team look at developing new regenerative medicine strategies through biomaterials discovery and development, nanotechnology, and stem cell research.  
  • Taming microbes. Biofilms are communities of microbes that attach to each other and surfaces, and are central to our most important global challenges – from antimicrobial resistance and food safety to water security. Scientists have developed  bug-resistant polymers applied to urinary catheters, while development of vaccines against pathogenic bacteria are making a difference to people’s lives.


Story credits

More information is available from Professor Chris Denning, Director of the Biodiscovery Institute at

Charlotte Anscombe - Media Relations Manager - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Phone: 0115 748 4417

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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