UHI secures funding to enhance lab equipment

The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) has been awarded £450,000 to enhance its range of mass spectrometry equipment. The new equipment will support UHI’s research in areas such as the pharmaceutical contamination of water, peatland resilience and muscle-wasting diseases.

The funding was donated through the Wolfson Foundation, an independent charity which supports society by investing in research and education projects in science, health, heritage, humanities and the arts.

Professor Ian Megson, UHI’s Head of Health Research and Innovation and Principal Investigator for the award, said: “This is a highly prestigious award to UHI which reflects our outstanding growth in research excellence over the past few years. The new mass spectrometry equipment will be located in the soon to be completed Life Sciences Innovation Centre on Inverness Campus - a joint venture with Highlands and Islands Enterprise which is funded by the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal and the European Regional Development Fund.

“The equipment will allow researchers from across UHI to apply cutting-edge technology to measure molecules of interest at extremely low levels. Existing projects that will benefit from the investment include measurement of pharmaceutical pollutants in hospital wastewater and an investigation of the impact of climate change on peatland biodiversity (both in collaboration with the Environmental Research Institute, UHI North Highland). However, a range of further projects are planned, spanning marine biology at SAMS and health applications. It is expected that the technology will also attract collaborative opportunities from partners at universities and companies worldwide.”

Alison Wilson, Director of Advancement and Alumni Engagement at UHI, added: “We are extremely grateful that the Wolfson Foundation has chosen to support UHI’s research activity in such a significant way. This is the first ever award Wolfson, an internationally recognised major philanthropic foundation, has made to UHI. It signals their confidence in what we are doing and our vision for the future, and we hope that it will be the start of a long-term relationship between Wolfson and the UHI partnership.”

The UHI life sciences programme secured £9m from the UK Government through the Inverness and Highland City-Region deal, which is a joint initiative supported by up to £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and UHI, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth. UHI also secured £3.75m of part-funding from the European Regional Development Fund, European Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020 Programme Scotland for the Life Sciences Innovation Centre.