St Andrews is set to become a world leader in medicine and biological sciences with the opening of a Â£45 million school.
First Minister Alex Salmond officially opened St Andrews University’s new facility at North Haugh.
The medical and biological sciences building brings together the institution’s medical school, previously in the Bute building, with biologists, physicists and chemists.
With a physical link to the school of physics and astronomy via a first-floor bridge, it is also one of the first medical schools in the UK to fully integrate research facilities across the sciences.
It is intended the school will produce the best doctors of tomorrow and research that will lead to new treatments and deliver major health benefits.
During a tour with university principal Professor Louise Richardson and chancellor Sir Menzies Campbell on Friday, Mr Salmond, a St Andrews graduate, met first-year medicine students, researchers and staff at work.
Before unveiling a commemorative bench, he said, “The University of St Andrews has a long, proud tradition in educational excellence and this Â£45 million state-of-the-art facility will bring together students across all science disciplines to create a rich collaborative environment.
“Scotland’s scientists and researchers have made an immense contribution to shaping the modern world and this new facility will strengthen this reputation.
“It will not only attract new under-graduates to the university, educating our next generation of doctors, but will establish a hub for the creation of new medical research and breakthroughs.”
The building boasts world-class medical and science facilities and has a 300-seat lecture theatre, teaching rooms, laboratories and research units.
Professor Richardson said the creation of the school built on a 600-year tradition.
“The first university in Scotland was established here in the years between 1411 and 1413. Today we are the first university in Scotland fully to integrate research facilities across medicine and the sciences.
“Our vision for the school is to advance cutting-edge medical and scientific research in an effort to solve enduring medical problems and promote human health.”
Dean of medicine and head of the school of medicine Professor Hugh MacDougall said the new school would create the best environment for medical education and research and great potential for inter-disciplinary collaboration on solutions for treatment of incurable diseases.
The building was completed in May. Academics moved in over the summer and students at the end of September.
Already its integrated structure is delivering results, with doctors and scientists working together on ground-breaking studies into conditions including Alzheimer’s and obesity.
The school was funded by the university with help from donors.
Major pledges of support have also been made by the Wolfson Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Robertson and Yelsel Trust.
Sadly, a massive Â£8 million donation promised by a Malaysian tycoon almost three years ago has yet to materialise.
Vinod Sekhar announced to much fanfare in February 2008 he would provide the cash to honour his late father, chemist Dr B. C. Sekhar, who revolutionised Malaysia’s natural rubber industry.
The school was to be named after Dr Sekhar. However, Mr Sekhar has yet to hand over the money and it emerged last month he is facing jail in Malaysia, accused of violating bankruptcy conditions.
The university said it continued to receive assurances that the pledge would be met.