Underground at St Pancras

The Frances Crick Institute is situated beneath St Pancras International railway station in London.

The Frances Crick Institute is situated beneath St Pancras International railway station in London.

When you next take a train from St Pancras have a think about what might be going on beneath your feet.

Just across the road from the station, and 28 metres below the pavement, world leaders in their field are working with some of the highest resolution microscopes on the market to investigate the causes of cancer and other diseases. 

The recently opened Frances Crick Institute brings together scientists from all over the world under one roof and is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Imperial College, King's College, the Medical Research Council, University College London and the Wellcome Trust. 

I was privileged to be invited to visit recently and I would like to thank the Head of Electron Microscopy, Lucy Collinson, and her colleague, Marie Charlotte, for an extremely interesting tour of the labs. Lucy and her team only moved in a few weeks ago, but already had systems up and running and collecting data - even though they were still surrounded by packing cases.
It was great to see the Linkam CMS196 Cryo Correlative stage was already unpacked and ready to start work.

Siting some of the most sensitive scientific instruments in the world so close to one of the busiest train stations in the country was always going to be a challenge. Ensuring that the vibrations from the London Underground and Eurostar do not affect their research has led to some novel civil engineering solutions providing vibration isolation flooring.

Everyone had big smiles on their faces, and no wonder. The bright and roomy new labs and microscopy rooms, the meeting spaces and offices all make for a great working environment, and it’s a far cry from their previous location. It all feels very conducive to continuing and advancing the great work being done. 

The Crick is clearly going to be one of the foremost international life science research facilities and great advancements in our understanding of life will be made there. 

By Duncan Stacey