Five years of the Francis Crick Institute - over 100 years of medical discoveries

The Francis Crick Institute's Pathway to Discovery, on Dangoor Walk

The Francis Crick Institute's Pathway to Discovery, on Dangoor Walk - Credit: Francis Crick Institute

To mark five years of the Francis Crick Institute, a new exhibition looks at the history of the scientific laboratories from which it was formed.

Named for the co-discoverer of DNA's double helix, the institute's facility in King's Cross was opened in by the Queen in November 2016.

It now houses more than 2,000 staff and students, working in disciplines in biology from molecular to cellular to entire organisms.

Throughout the pandemic it has been at the forefront of research into Covid-19.

Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the Francis Crick Institute in November 2016

Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the Francis Crick Institute in November 2016 - Credit: Nick Ansell/PA

An exhibition, Pathway to Discovery, opened on Friday on Dangoor Walk, the walkway between the Crick and the British Library, looking at the history of the scientific laboratories from which it was formed: the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research and Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute at Lincoln's Inn Fields and Clare Hall.

It tells the story of a selection of breakthroughs in understanding the biology of human health and disease.

The Francis Crick Institute

The Francis Crick Institute - Credit: Nick Ansell/PA

Rosie Waldron, head of public engagement at the Crick, said: “Science works in steps, with researchers of today building on discoveries from years earlier, moving forward to a stronger understanding of health and biology.

Most Read

"This is what this exhibition celebrates and showcases, and we hope people will enjoy reading about over a hundred years of life-changing discoveries.”

In 2018 prime minister Theresa May and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi visited the Francis Crick Institute

In 2018 prime minister Theresa May and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi visited the Francis Crick Institute to meet scientists researching cures for kidney and lung cancer - Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

The exhibition is on until autumn 2023 and is curated by Anna Faherty, illustrated by Lauren Doughty and designed by Hato, with science writing from Kathy Weston. 

The institute began operating in early 2017 and now has more than 100 research groups.

Since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, the institute has looked at how testing methods can be improved; why some cases are worse than others; how the virus's cells interact with human cells; how the virus is transmitted and evolves; and how the virus affects people who are already ill.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson received the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from James Black, at the Francis Crick Institute

Prime Minister Boris Johnson received his second jab of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from James Black, at the Francis Crick Institute in June 2021 - Credit: Matt Dunham/PA

Other recent work has included the use of nanobodies, a versatile type of small antibody found in animals such as camels and llamas, in scientific research, including in efforts to tackle Covid-19.

In February, researchers announced they had uncovered how a process involved in the regeneration of tissue damaged by radiation can aid the spread of cancer. 

The Francis Crick Institute's Pathway to Discovery, on Dangoor Walk

The Francis Crick Institute's Pathway to Discovery, on Dangoor Walk - Credit: Francis Crick Institute