The Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) Lighthouse Lab in Cheshire, which has played a vital role in supporting the UK Government with mass testing and tackling COVID-19, has been awarded the "Best COVID-19 Responder" at the 2020 OBN Awards.
The Alderley Park facility received the award for its integral role in establishing the Lighthouse Laboratory network of high capacity, and high throughput laboratories that have delivered over 75 million COVID-19 PCR tests throughout the pandemic.
The award also celebrated the individual impact of the lab, which brought together R&D institutions in the North to help protect both the region, and the nation during a time of crisis.
The awards, which took place at the Royal Lancaster in London on 11th June, celebrate outstanding achievements across the life sciences industry, recognising innovation, leadership, and the delivery of tangible results.
The Lighthouse Lab was presented the award jointly with Oxford BioMedica, ThermoFisher Scientific and Native Antigen, all of whom were celebrated for their hard work in keeping the nation informed throughout the pandemic, and in doing so helping to save lives.
Prof. Chris Molloy, CEO of the Medicines Discovery Catapult said: "This award recognises the huge contribution that the MDC Lighthouse Lab has made to the national testing effort for COVID-19.
"This recognition is genuinely for each of the thousands of people who have made the Lighthouse Lab project possible. Everyone involved over the last 15 months – whatever their role - should be immensely proud of this achievement and their contribution to tackling this pandemic.
"I have been humbled every day to work alongside the people who have made this possible through quiet, relentless hard-work and dedication to others above themselves. Now is the time for their contribution to be loudly applauded."
The MDC Lighthouse has capacity to test 80,000 PCR samples a day, which come from regional test sites, mobile testing units, care homes and home testing kits.
Earlier this year, MDC Lighthouse Lab scientists identified the emergence of the alpha (Kent) COVID-19 variant in the lab and was able to use this new information to track its spread across the country, helping to tackle the outbreak and break chains of transmission.
Dr Mark Wigglesworth, Site Director at the Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab, said; "I'm proud of what we have done to help the nation and it is fantastic to see the work recognised alongside other very significant responses to the pandemic, this really does highlight how important the impact of the Lighthouse Laboratory has been."
Operated by MDC and staffed day and night by over 750 trained specialists, the Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab has now tested a total number of samples equivalent to testing almost a fifth of the UK's population since it launched in April 2020.
Prof. Peter Simpson, Chief Science Officer at MDC and the Alderley Park Lighthouse's founding Director, added: "Everyone who has contributed to the creation of the Labs is part of this success.
"We've shown what a remarkable force we are and how together we can be even more successful."
During the ceremony, a host of organisations that closely collaborated with the Medicines Discovery Catapult also picked up awards. Alderley Park Limited, who won the Best Business Support award, Exscientia took home the Best Established Biotech award and Evox were named winners in the Best Emerging Biotech category. Alchemab was awarded Best Start-up, while Domainex picked up the award for Best CRO and Kinomica was named One to Watch.
John Harris, CEO at OBN said; "The huge number of entries we received once again emphasised the sheer scale, quality, and resilience of our life sciences sector, which continues to thrive despite the recent challenging circumstances.
OBN (UK) Ltd. is a membership organisation that supports the life sciences industry.
For more information on the MDC-Lighthouse Lab, please visit: https://md.catapult.org.uk/lighthouse-lab/