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A new wing is being built to expand the Botnar Research Centre and advance its research into musculoskeletal science and bioengineering technologies.

An artist’s impression of the new Marcela Botnar Wing alongside the existing Botnar Research Centre
An artist’s impression of the new Marcela Botnar Wing alongside the existing Botnar Research Centre.

At the turn of the new century, Professors John Kenwright and Andy Carr were working with colleagues on a vision to develop a research institute on the site of the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre Hospital (NOC), which had been treating patients with bone and joint problems for more than 80 years.

In April 2002 that vision was realised with the opening of the Botnar Research Centre, named after the philanthropic Botnar family for their founding donation, and with the support of the NOC Charity. With top level clinicians and scientists able to work hand-in-hand with patients at the NOC, the Botnar soon began to lead the field in disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and education. The department saw breakthroughs in the areas of arthritis, fracture prevention and treatment, and surgical care among others, while improving patients' quality of life, directly impacting policy decisions, and delivering cost savings to healthcare providers.

Dial forward a few years and its success brought new challenges. The Botnar continued to expand so the building rapidly outgrew its space and Andy, who had in the meantime become the Director of the Institute, worked with the NOC Charity on the building of Botnar 2.

Opened in January 2013 the new facilities enabled NDORMS to significantly expand from 100 to 200 researchers. The purpose-built research facilities allowed the department to attract to Oxford leading experts in the field of clinical trials, pharmacoepidemiology and statistics to complement the laboratory scientists and clinician scientists already working in Botnar 1. This includes the recent recruitment of Professor Duncan Richards to the newly endowed Climax Chair of Clinical Therapeutics.

Over the past 18 years multiple new lines of research have been established for the benefit of policy and patients around the world, while at the same time including the latest thinking to teach the next generation of clinicians and scientists.

"The building is now full and bursting at the seams," says Andy. "To accommodate further growth, and to be at the forefront of technical innovations in medicine we have been looking for more space to do research. As the concept of building a research institute next to a hospital has worked well, and with the continued support of the NOC Charity and our benefactors, I am pleased to announce that building work on Botnar 3 has commenced and will sit alongside the current centre on the site of the NOC."

Due to open in the summer of 2021, 'the new Marcela Botnar Wing' will focus on biomaterials and biomodulation and enhance the existing links between medicine and engineering. Under the leadership of Professor Eleanor Stride, who has a joint appointment with NDORMS and Engineering Science, it will exploit the latest advances in technology to open up the possibility of a new set of inventions and interventions to advance treatment options for patients. "The work will include new strategies ranging from novel methods of delivering precise doses of drugs to sites of disease using bubbles to so-called smart materials that have a drug-like properties," says Andy.

The building of the Marcela Botnar Wing is under way with the skeleton of the frame in place including a walkway that will link the buildings together The building of the Marcela Botnar Wing is under way with the skeleton of the frame in place including a walkway that will link the buildings together

Eleanor was nominated as a finalist in the prestigious 2020 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists for her work and along with her engineering team, brings expertise in the design of drug delivery systems that could revolutionise medical treatments.

"I am very excited to join NDORMS and foster the genuine integration of engineering and medical research, maximising the benefits of the co-location with clinical researchers," says Eleanor. "Engineers have a different approach to problem-solving and that can be very useful for multidisciplinary questions. We are trained to analyse systems and solve problems. For me, solving clinical problems is as worthwhile as it gets."

The new wing will bring state-of-the-art facilities for the department including a clean room for biomanufacturing, a 3D printing hub, an integrated quantitative microscopy hub, and a high-speed imaging hub. Scientists from across the University and different research areas will be able to collaborate. "We can now achieve our vision to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery and change patients' lives for the better, both now and for future generations," Andy concluded.

The Marcela Botnar Wing is funded by the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre Charity which has been strongly supported by the Botnar Foundation. Mrs. Franklin, Appeal Director/Trustee said that it has taken 25 years of fundraising and the support of thousands of patients, benefactors, charitable trusts, companies and legacies to complete the Centre. "Our charity is small but our Trustees, and our President Lord Tebbit supported by our Patron HRH The Duchess of Cornwall have worked very hard.

We are so delighted that the Botnar Research Centre, now a world- leading centre in musculoskeletal research, will soon have in the new Marcela Botnar Wing state-of- the-art research facilities, including a 3D printing hub. The Botnar Research Centre is producing amazing results with Andy at its helm and has proved successful beyond our wildest dreams."