Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Investigating early growth and embryonic development in the zebrafish.

Investigating early growth and embryonic development in the zebrafish.
© The Francis Crick Institute.

Click on the list below and you will find answers to frequently asked questions.

If you have any other questions, please email

  1. What research will you do?

    The institute brings together scientists from leading biomedical research organisations to develop new treatments for illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections and neurodegenerative diseases that affect families in the UK and around the world.

    The roots of these and all diseases lie in the altered functioning of cells or the way they interact within the body. Developing a better understanding of biological processes in health will help us understand why disease develops and how it might be treated.

    For more information about the Crick's research see our strategy and science programme pages or download our strategy booklet [PDF] or the summary [PDF].


  2. What jobs will be available?

    As well as developing the careers of exceptional scientists, The Francis Crick Institute plays a key role in the local community.

    During construction, the contractor, Laing O'Rourke, offered apprenticeships to young people living in Camden.

    When the institute is fully occupied and operational in early 2017 there will be approximately 1,250 scientific jobs and 250 support roles, including jobs and careers in IT, engineering, laboratory support, maintenance and security. The Francis Crick Institute is in discussions with London's authorities on providing skills training for local residents. This will be in addition to the investment and training that will be provided for those associated with the construction.


  3. Why are you building at St Pancras and Somers Town?

    The vision for The Francis Crick Institute was to create a new world-class research centre that will enable London and the UK to stay at the forefront of medical research for decades to come. The site is amid an exceptional cluster of medical research expertise in hospitals and academic institutions located in Camden.

    The institute incorporates scientists from 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), who became part of the Crick in April 2015, as well as researchers from,  UCL (University College London)Imperial College London and  King's College London.

    In the last decade, it has become clear that progress in biomedical science requires scientists from different disciplines in biology to work together with physicists, chemists, mathematicians and engineers. Biomedical scientists also need to have easy access to hospitals and clinical facilities.

    The Francis Crick Institute achieves this integrated and innovative way of working through the design of the institute, its location at St Pancras, its partnership with leading universities and the superb transport facilities that will allow easy access to leading UK and international research centres and commercial enterprises.


  4. What public facilities will there be?

    The Francis Crick Institute carries out a range of public and community engagement activities.

    A 450 square metre community facility, called the Living Centre, has been built at the Ossulston Street side of the building. It includes a large space for exercise activities, two meeting/training rooms and smaller rooms for one-to-one sessions.

    A group of Somers Town residents and representatives of health and community organisations are involved in developing the services the Living Centre will offer. See our Living Centre page for more information.

    The Francis Crick Institute also includes a public exhibition/gallery space, a school Discovery Lab and a 450-seat auditorium. During 2016 we will not be hiring out our auditorium or seminar suite to external organisations. This will be reviewed in 2017, once we have a complete understanding of our own requirements and use of these spaces. More information will be provided on our website in 2017.


  5. How will the Francis Crick Institute benefit young people?

    The Francis Crick Institute works with local schools and community youth groups to help foster enthusiasm about science and medicine and to inspire students, preparing them for the exciting jobs of tomorrow.

    Our educational activities are interactive, inclusive, inspirational and innovative, and include practical demonstrations of scientific experiments, hands-on laboratory experience and engaging lectures. They are designed to encourage and support young people at all stages of their education, from the foundation years to A-level and BTEC students studying science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.

    See our science education page for more information.

    The building contractor, Laing O'Rourke, offered construction apprenticeships to young people (aged 18-24) living in Camden, giving them an opportunity to learn a trade for life.

    We also attend recruitment fairs to give young people information on education and careers in science.


  6. Once the building is operating, will there be more noise?

    There are strict regulations governing noise levels for the site. The Francis Crick Institute will fully comply with these requirements.


  7. What will pollution levels from the building be like?

    There are strict environmental regulations governing flue emissions. The building is being carefully designed to ensure that emissions are at acceptable levels.  It will abide by the UK's strict guidelines to ensure peace of mind for local residents and The Francis Crick Institute staff.


  8. What safety and security facilities will there be?

    The Francis Crick Institute is continuing the world-leading research into influenza, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV that was previously carried out at the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).

    This will represent a small but important part of the work of the institute. Flu research saves thousands of lives each year - for example through the design of vaccines - and helps ensure the UK is robustly protected.

    All of the institute's work will be carried out at the appropriate level of containment in state-of-the-art custom-designed laboratories.

    Central London and the borough of Camden already accommodate many secure laboratories in hospitals and university buildings. Such laboratories are common and essential facilities in modern medical research, and are very safe.

    Samples used in our research will be transported securely and safely according to strict criteria defined by the United Nations. These transport arrangements are no less stringent than those followed daily by hospitals throughout London and are regarded as extremely robust.

    The founders' scientists and technicians are extremely experienced in ensuring the safe study of viruses. NIMR worked at its Mill Hill site for 60 years and had an exemplary safety record as did Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute, which was based at Lincoln's Inn Fields for many years. The Francis Crick Institute is confident that this record will be maintained in the new laboratories.

    Containment Levels

    Organisms that can cause human or animal disease are placed into one of four Hazard Groups according to the hazard they present. The measures adopted by laboratories to work with these organisms safely are called Containment Levels. Containment Level 1 is minimum risk.

    Malaria, tuberculosis and HIV are assigned to Hazard Group 3 so must be studied in a Containment Level 3 laboratory.

    Seasonal flu, to which many people are exposed each year, is assigned to Hazard Group 2. The H5N1 strain ('bird flu') requires precautions above those required for members of Hazard Group 3, and we refer to these precautions as Containment Level 3+.

    All laboratories and working practices are regulated by the Health and Safety Executive and are checked with rigorous and regular inspections.

    For Containment Level 3, the following conditions apply.

    • Laboratories are secure and accessible only through an airlock.
    • Flooring and benches are impervious to water and resistant to chemicals.
    • Laboratories are under negative pressure such that air flows in from clean areas and is extracted to the atmosphere through special high efficiency particulate air filters.
    • Work is carried out in safety cabinets to protect workers and the environment.
    • All waste is treated before it leaves the area either by heat or a suitable disinfectant.
    • Written management procedures are required.
    • Staff must be properly trained.
    • Procedures are required to deal with any foreseeable emergency.

    Containment Level 3+ requires that walls as well as floor and benching should be impervious, that the laboratories are under higher negative pressure, and that heat treatment is applied to all liquid and solid waste including shower water. Certain work is required to be carried out in closed safety cabinets, and workers are subject to higher standards of training and more frequent assessments.

    The Crick research programme will not include work on Hazard Group 4 pathogens causing diseases such as Ebola or Lassa fever. 


  9. Will you be doing research involving animals?

    Animals are essential in a number of areas of biomedical research, medicine development and safety testing. They are necessary to understand the body in health and disease, and to develop new and improved medical treatments.

    However, research involving animals is not undertaken lightly. Both the potential scientific and medical benefits of the research, and the possible effect on the animals used, are weighed up carefully before any animal research project can proceed. Research involving animals is regulated by the Home Office and may only be carried out under licence.

    Almost all the Crick's research involving animals will use mice, rats, fish, frogs, fruit flies or nematode worms. We will also use small numbers of ferrets and laboratory opossums because they offer the best model for particular human diseases. 

    For example, current research on flu uses ferrets, because they are susceptible to the strains of flu that infect humans: it causes similar symptoms and it runs a similar course. The swine flu pandemic of 2009 caused 14,286 confirmed deaths worldwide. 

    All the partners are committed to the principles of 'the 3Rs' - reducing the numbers of animals used, replacing them where possible and refining experiments to reduce the numbers and involvement of animals.

    For more information click here.