WORLD famous biologist Professor Richard Dawkins was a VIP guest at Sheffield University, officially opening a new state-of-the-art £4.3 million life sciences institute.
Professor Dawkins, best known for his controversial atheist views, unveiled a plaque at the centre which will allow chemists and biologists to work more closely together.
The new Life Science Interface Institute, a refurbishment and extension of the Sir Robert Hadfield Building, means they can work together in high-tech labs on pioneering projects, such as treatment of diseases.
Prof Dawkins said: “I’m incredibly honoured to be invited to open this beautiful and very productive building.”
Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Hounslow: “Engineering has long benefited by seeking to understand and then exploit scientific discovery and understanding.
“The labs mean we can support state-of-the-art equipment while working on a broad range of biological systems, from waste water to the treatment of disease.
“Engineers and biologists have worked on biological manufacturing before - producing penicillin is a good example. The new accommodation means they can work in the same labs.”
The institute also features an ‘ideas space’ for students, and it will also be used for other events including workshops, presentations and lunches.
As part of the refurbishment, improvements were also made to offices in the building.
It is hoped the centre will help to train a new generation of researchers in chemical and bioprocess techniques, working with other universities and industry contacts.
Head of chemical and biological engineering Professor Phillip Wright added: “We now have a large and well equipped analytical facility.”