$10 million gift for new Nanoscience Institute in Oxford

A new institute for nanoscience research is to open in Oxford thanks to a $10 million gift from The Kavli Foundation.

The new Kavli Institute for NanoScience Discovery (Kavli INSD) at Oxford will be a unique combination of structural biology with world-leading biochemistry, pathology, chemistry, physics, physiology and engineering. Based in a new building at the centre of Oxford’s Science Area site, it will house more than 40 faculty and 400 students, postdocs and research staff.

It will be the 20th Kavli Institute globally and The Kavli Foundation’s fifth institute in nanoscience when it opens its doors in January 2021.

Professor Gavin Screaton, Head of Oxford University’s Medical Sciences Division, said: “Oxford has a rich tradition as a research-driven university and the addition of a Kavli Institute will enhance that collaborative nature that helps us to deliver exceptional education, to carry out world-leading research, and to make significant contributions to society – locally, nationally and internationally.

‘The multidisciplinary nature of nanoscience broadens the possibilities for discoveries, which can translate into innovations that can benefit economies and humanity worldwide, such as the development of the gene-editing technology CRISPR.’

One of the leading science philanthropies globally, the U.S.-based Kavli Foundation is unique in endowing research institutes in astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics. It also supports the scientific enterprise through programs that strengthen the connection between science and society and with The Kavli Prize that honours scientific breakthroughs in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.

‘The Kavli Foundation is honoured to have a major research institute at the historic University of Oxford,’ said Robert W. Conn, president and CEO of The Kavli Foundation. ‘The foundation has a unique model of endowing research institutes – we transfer wealth to a university’s endowment where they then receive an annual payout for unrestricted use in scientific research. We also enter into a long-term partnership, sharing a deep commitment to basic science and advancing science for the benefit of humanity. Oxford presented a cohesive and comprehensive scientific vision paired with a substantial university commitment and excellent scientific leadership. We welcome Oxford and the Kavli Institute for NanoScience Discovery to the Kavli Institute family.’

The Kavli Institute for NanoScience Discovery will be led by Professor Carol Robinson, who is providing programmatic vision of the institute. Professor Robinson is a highly decorated chemist known for her work in using mass spectrometry to elucidate the 3D structures of proteins.

Professor Robinson said: ‘Scientific research increasingly involves collaboration between different disciplines due to the complexity of cutting-edge work.

‘By bringing multiple disciplines together under the same roof to advance scientific research the new Kavli Institute will create an environment that encourages the cross-pollination of ideas and inter-disciplinary cooperation.’

The institute will benefit from close proximity of the scientific departments, the advanced imaging facilities and state-of-the-art-instrumentation. ‘I am delighted to be the first director of The Kavli Institute for NanoScience Discovery with its mission of bringing the physical sciences into the cell. The opportunity to shape this new interdisciplinary centre where the outcomes are not determined in advance, but discovered through experiment, is something that resonates strongly with me,’ says Professor Robinson.