Legacy for anti-doping centre

The anti-doping facility The anti-doping facility will become a medical research centre

The anti-doping facility being used to test samples during the Olympic and Paralympic Games is to be turned into a medical research unit.

The MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre will look for new molecular 'biomarkers' for disease by analysing samples from patients and volunteers.

At present the unit at Harlow, Essex is testing urine and blood samples from athletes, looking for more than 240 prohibited substances. Every Olympic medallist and a random selection of other competitors will be tested.

The new Phenome Centre will be funded over five years by an investment of £5million each from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

It will develop the facility provided by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and operated by King's College, London.

Imperial College London will lead the academic group at the Centre which includes King's College.


Phenome describes the entire mixture of molecules in our bodies - in our blood, urine and tissue - the result of both our genetic inheritance and our lifestyle.

It is similar to the term phenotype which is the observable traits of an organism - influenced by its genome and the environment.

The Phenome Centre will aim to use and develop the sensitive anti-doping facilities to analyse samples in a faster and more detailed manner than previously possible.

Researchers hope to find new biomarkers in cells, molecules or genes which may explain why some individuals or groups are more susceptible to disease than others. The ultimate goal is to use this knowledge to find new, safer and more targeted treatments.

Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the MRC said it would "provide a unique resource that will ultimately result in benefits for patients". He added: "This is a phenomenal legacy from the Games."

Prof Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England said: "This research Centre will transform our understanding of people's physical characteristics and disease, and enable use to pull through these discoveries into real benefits for patients."

The Phenome Centre will open in January 2013.

Fergus Walsh Article written by Fergus Walsh Fergus Walsh Medical correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    This proposal seems frightening: the study of genetics of individuals, via their hair colour, eye colour, blood etc to establish who will genetically be susceptible to Alzeimers etc!

    Wasn't there a German dictator who actually practiced this - his name was Hitler!

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    So are we saying this was all paid for by UK taxpayers and will then be either given free or a reduced rate to a private company ? The Tories never change - that's exactly what they did with the telephone network, the rail network, the water companies, British Gas and the electric companies.
    No wonder the UK taxpayer never has any money yet the ones at the top have everything !

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Interesting, but why partner with GlaxoSmithKline. Didn't this giant just agree to pay $3B US in criminal/civil fines + plead guilty to misdemeanour criminal charges related to the sale/marketing of its antidepressants Paxil & Wellbutrin & diabetes drug Avandia in the largest health-care fraud settlement in US history?

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    'It will develop the facility provided by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and
    operated by King's College, London.'

    Missed this bit, forget my previous post.
    However: Keep GSK out of King's.
    If GSK has given this as a generous gesture that we thank them, but if there are strings attached, then give it back.
    Forgive me for thinking that this is a Trojan horse but GSK are not known for benevolence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    This is a great idea with one massive drawback.
    Why give it to big pharma?


Comments 5 of 8



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