Huge donation from alumni to the university will change lives with drug research

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A MULTI-million-pound grant to the University of Sunderland is set to help improve the lives of people around the world through drug research.

The donation is the university’s largest ever donation from a single person, a former student and pharmaceutical entrepreneur.

The university announced the establishment of the John Dawson Research Institute for Drug Discovery and Development on its city campus in Sunderland.

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The Institute will be established after a £5m donation from John Dawson and his wife, Sam. A former student of the university, John is the former CEO of Alliance Pharma, a world-leading international healthcare organization.

The announcement is the latest in a series of projects, including the opening of a £5m anatomy center last year that puts the university at the forefront of health-related education, training, research and innovation.

Working closely with the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry, the New Research Institute will play a key role in transforming laboratory research and innovations into life-changing treatments for clinical practice.

John said: “Fifty years after graduating in pharmacy from Sunderland and developing a career in the pharmaceutical industry, I was delighted to reconnect with the university a few years ago.

“I was immediately impressed with the progress achieved in the intervening half-century and was eager to help the university continue its development, especially in the field of health.

“Therefore, I am delighted to assist the university’s new Drug Discovery and Development Research Institute and look forward to working with the team as they bring the projects to life.”

The institute will be located in the university’s science complex, which will be renamed the John Dawson Science Complex.

Sir David Bell KCB DL, vice-chancellor and general manager of the university, said: “I am so grateful to John and Sam Dawson for their tremendous generosity in supporting this new Research Institute in the crucial areas of drug discovery and development. The fact that John is ‘one of us’ is an added bonus as his life and career showcases the good our graduates have done in many different areas of life”.

The institute will bring together expertise in clinical, laboratory and data science to address issues of local, national and international importance.

After graduating from Sunderland Polytechnic in 1970, John went on to build a successful career in medicine. He founded the prescription drugs and consumer health company Alliance Pharma Plc in 1996 and began trading in 1998.

Over the next 20 years the company expanded and John transformed Alliance Pharma Plc into an international pharmaceutical powerhouse with sales in excess of £100 million.

Starting with two full-time employees in the UK, the company now has more than 200 employees operating in 10 offices in nine countries.

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Born in Newcastle in 2019, John left Alliance Pharma.

The new institute will focus on areas such as the discovery of new drugs for the treatment of rare inherited metabolic diseases, the development of targeted delivery methods and technologies to improve pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, as well as the development and application of machine learning tools for early disease detection.

Key to the development of the Institute concept has been the recent achievement of £175,000 from the Northern Accelerator, £300,000 from the MRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) (with an additional £150,000 from the University) and the Innovate UK KTP awards. to support the development of translation research projects.

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