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At the heart of the UK’s internationally-recognised ‘Golden Triangle’, the Life Sciences and Healthcare cluster within the Thames Valley is supported by a range of academic institutions and R&D centres of excellence.

With a world-leading science base, including four of the world’s top 10 universities for medical research, the UK has been responsible for many of the major scientific breakthroughs enabling biomedical innovation. These range from the discovery of penicillin and the structure of DNA to advancements in neuroscience and medical imaging and developments in stem cells and in vitro fertilization.


The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy emphasised the importance of building on this and continuing to increase R&D spend. In the subsequent Life Sciences Sector Deals 1 and 2, commitments from the UK Government and the life sciences industry to increase investment in this crucial area were highlighted.

The Thames Valley hosts a range of research and developments centres of excellence, these include:

Retaining its position in The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023, as the number one university in the world for the 7th consecutive year, the University of Oxford also, for the eighth consecutive year, holds first place globally for Clinical, Pre-clinical and Health.

Fundamental to its success is its ground-breaking research and innovation. Its Medical Sciences Division, the largest of its four academic divisions, continues to be recognised as an international centre of excellence for medical research and teaching and pioneering medical and biomedical investigation. It receives more than 60% of the university’s total external research income and has 27 Nobel Prize winners in medicine and chemistry.

The University is globally renowned in the sciences, including research pharmacology, medical chemistry, pharmaceuticals and pharmacy practice research. It is in the process of developing a new £50m Life and Health Sciences research facility.


Examples of the University’s expertise include the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics; the Centre for Applied Behavioural Science and the Charlie Walker Institute.

The University has a strong reputation for life sciences and health research, centred on the Department of Biological and Medical Sciences. The quality and impact of work in this department has been reflected in the UK government’s Research Excellence Framework, where the majority of assessed research was judged to be world leading or internationally excellent. Research groups within biomedicine include Human Genetics and GenomicsMolecular Cell Biology and Virology.

Imperial College London 

A science-based university with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, Imperial College London is consistently rated one of the world’s best universities.


Imperial is committed to developing the next generation of researchers, scientists and academics through collaboration across disciplines.

royal holloway

Royal Holloway, University of London

Situated in Surrey, Royal Holloway has strong links to industry and research expertise in bioinformatics, bio-diagnostics, biological sciences and health and well-being.

Thames Valley LSH research companies

The Thames Valley also hosts a range of life sciences companies that incorporate a significant research function, these include: AbbVie, Abbott Laboratories, Boehringer Ingelheim, Becton Dickinson, GE Healthcare and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. In addition, the Thames Valley is home to several other centres of excellence, including the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville and the University of Buckingham’s Institute for Translational Medicine.

Harwell Campus, Oxford

Harwell Campus, in Didcot, Oxfordshire, is a world-leading site dedicated to the advancement of science, technology and innovation. Best known for its leadership of the European Space sector, its large ‘open access’ facilities such as the Diamond Light Source Synchrotron and the Central Laser Facility’s “Octopus” and inter-disciplinary collaboration between physical and life sciences also give strength to its HealthTec Cluster. Areas of focus include, inter alia: ageing, drug discovery and environmental impact on human health.


The Rosalind Franklin Institute at Harwell is a new national institute, funded by the UK government through UK Research and Innovation, dedicated to bringing about transformative changes in life science through interdisciplinary research and technology development.

Many life sciences companies in the region incorporate a significant research function; these include AbbVie, Abbott Laboratories, Boehringer Ingelheim, Becton Dickinson, GE Healthcare and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care.