Centre for Molecular Biosciences


Welcome to a Centre of Excellence in Biomedical Research, the UK’s top-rated unit for Biomedical Sciences Research. The School of Biomedical Sciences attained the highest possible rating of 5* in the 1996 and 2001 Research Assessment Exercises (RAE), demonstrating that its research is of international excellence and placing the University first in the United Kingdom in this highly competitive area. In order to build on this achievement, the University designated Biomedical Sciences as one of the very high priority research areas that it would selectively support and develop in order to:

  • sustain and enhance this international excellence;
  • maintain and develop the University’s competitive edge/advantage in the highly competitive field of the biosciences; and
  • strengthen the position of Biomedical research as one of the key wealth creating sectors of the 21st Century.

The University’s Biomedical Science Research Strategy is in line with Northern Ireland Technology Foresight recommendations and focuses on nutrition and on degenerative diseases. A major boost to this strategy was the University’s success in obtaining funding of £14.5m, under the Support Programme for University Research (SPUR) initiative, to facilitate the construction and equipping of a new Centre for Molecular Biosciences (CMB) at the Coleraine Campus.

This investment in the University’s world-class Biomedical research has enabled a dramatic expansion and diversification of this high quality research activity within a state-of-the-art environment. The CMB, and the facilities, equipment and technologies it provides, has further established Ulster University as one of the world’s leading biomedical research centres concentrating on degenerative diseases, especially their interaction with nutritional factors. The technological expertise being used to conduct this research is based on genomics, proteomics, molecular imaging, transgenics, biotechnology and the related discipline of bioinformatics/ systems biology.

The SPUR funding has been used to provide a new four-storey, 6,700 square metre building with laboratory facilities housing the highest specification equipment currently available. The CMB building was designed by Boswell Mitchell Johnston & Co. (Glasgow) and GM Design (Coleraine) in collaboration with the scientific users of the building and the University’s Physical Resources Department.

The CMB will further establish Northern Ireland as a Centre of Excellence in molecular biosciences and, together with Innovation Ulster and Science Research Park activities will help to establish Ulster University as a major location for bio-related industries in Northern Ireland.

Support Programme for University Research (SPUR)

The Northern Ireland Support Programme for University Research (SPUR) is a public-private partnership (PPP) financial framework initiative which is investing up to £40m in the research infrastructure at Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast over a four-year period (2000-2004).

The investment was made on a competitive basis under the auspices of the Northern Ireland Higher Education Council (NIHEC), assisted by an international panel of experts chaired by Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, Chairman of NIHEC.

The main aim of SPUR is to enhance the strategic approach taken by the two Northern Ireland universities to the development of their research capacity, and strengthen their research base, in particular, to increase the volume of research operating at the highest international standard.

SPUR will enable the two Northern Ireland universities to:-

  • undertake a planned approach to the development of their existing capacity, in particular increasing the number of research centres capable of being assessed at 5 or 5* in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE);
  • attract high quality researchers in the fields of science and technology, the humanities and social sciences and to develop infrastructural capacity to support research at the highest levels;
  • foster an interdisciplinary approach to research;
  • extend the range and scope of collaboration with other institutions, with business and with other research interests within Ireland or further afield.