[5 February, 2007] V A major new scientific institute to research the causes of cancer and translate those findings into clinical practice has recently opened in Cambridge. The institute is a unique partnership between the University of Cambridge and Cancer Research UK and will capitalise on the UK’s leading cancer charity’s strong existing connections with both the University and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, part of the Cambridge University Hospitals Trust.
Her Majesty The Queen, who is patron of the Charity, opened on Friday last week the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, housed in the recently completed Li Ka-shing Centre. She was accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, and Sir Ka-shing Li, Chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Limited.
Construction by the University of the G50-million Li Ka-shing Centre on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus was funded jointly by Cambridge University, Hutchison Whampoa Limited and Cancer Research UK, plus a range of other donors. Cancer Research UK has purchased approximately G15 million of state-of-the-art equipment for the Institute, funded through generous donations and an appeal spearheaded by Cyril Dennis MBE, and will provide around G20 million per year to core-fund research at the Institute.
More than 300 scientists in 20 research groups will be based at the Institute. They will be led by Professor Bruce Ponder, Director and Li Ka-shing Professor of Oncology, whose research covers the genetics of breast cancer, and Professor Fiona Watt, Deputy Director and holder of the Herchel Smith Professorship of Molecular Genetics, who studies the link between stem cells and cancer. Other research at the Institute will range from cell biology to imaging and experimental medicine.
Sir Ka-shing Li has long been a sponsor of cancer research at the University of Cambridge, support that was instrumental in the University securing the new Institute. A further recent gift from the Li Ka Shing Foundation has also endowed a new Professorship of Oncology at the University. Professor Ponder is the first holder of the post, overseeing all aspects of cancer research on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.
Professor Alison Richard, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said: “The visit of HM The Queen as Patron of Cancer Research UK, and of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as Chancellor of the University, illustrates the importance that the UK attaches to this crucial work, and is testament to the strength of this joint enterprise between the Charity and the University, supported by the generous and far-sighted philanthropy of Sir Ka-shing Li.”
Professor Ponder said: “The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, based in the magnificent Li Ka-shing Centre, gives us an exciting opportunity to harness the scientific strengths of Cambridge to solve the practical problems of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer. We have recruited world-class scientists who will do fundamental research into how cancers develop, and turn the results of this research into practical benefits for patients.”
Professor Alex Markham, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “Our aim is to create an exciting environment of interdisciplinary collaboration so that researchers in many different fields will be able to work together with the single aim of beating cancer. New cancer treatments and diagnostics will enter clinical trials more quickly as a direct result of research carried out in the Cambridge Research Institute.”
Sir Ka-shing Li said: “I have seen, at first hand, how the benefits of healthcare research have translated into improvements in the quality of life to the sick and infirmed. Cambridge University is one of the world’s beacons of learning, I have great faith that the research conducted in the centre will prove to be invaluable medical advancement to the world.
“It has always been my dream that knowledge and caring can help to make the world a better place. Building this institute is part of that dream.”
A major new sculptural commission for the University of Cambridge
A remarkable sculpture by a world-renowned artist has been installed at the University of Cambridge, through the generosity of Sir Ka-shing Li.
“The Taichi Arch – Gate of Health”, a large bronze sculpture by the famous Chinese Master Ju Ming, stands outside the entrance to the newly opened Li Ka-shing Centre, home of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus next to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
Sir Ka-shing Li’s longstanding support for public artwork has always been for more than solely aesthetic reasons. For him, public art has a shared goal with the research institutes of which he has also been an innovative and important patron. Sir Ka-shing Li quotes Einstein: “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.”
Ju Ming is the most important Chinese artist of his generation, one who marries profound knowledge of and respect for the traditions of Chinese art with absorption in the grammar of modern art. Born in 1938 to a poor family with 12 children, and apprenticed to a carver of wooden images for Buddhist temples at age 15, Ju soon became a master craftsman and set up his own workshop. But he was driven by artistic imperatives and, in 1968, began a second apprenticeship with Yuyu Yang in Taipei. Yang had studied sculpture in Tokyo and Rome, and was beginning to establish an international reputation for massive polished-steel sculptures of abstract shapes.
Working together, both teacher and pupil liberated themselves from the realism of traditional figures and pared away unnecessary detail to reveal essential shapes. Ju carves so quickly that surfaces remain rough, with cuts and gashes suggesting an imperfect inner spirit. “When one sculpts at high speed, cutting strokes follow closely upon each other and attention is focused on the fleeting moment…. It is the power of instinct that brings the work to completion,” he says.
Ju’s works are usually outdoor sculptures. His giant figures in richly patinated bronze and rough-hewn wood seem to belong to the earth on which they often rest, absorbing the energy of the wind and water that surround them.
His work can be found in major collections and sites across the world: In the UK, his work can be found on London’s South Bank Centre as well as the Yorkshire Sculpture Park; it can also be found in France, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong as well as the Max Hutchinson Sculpture Field in New York.