A life-changing £5 million donation has been made to the University of Sunderland

The largest-ever individual donation to the University of Sunderland from a former student and pharmaceutical donation entrepreneur aims to help improve the lives of millions of people around the world. 

The University announced the creation of the John Dawson Drug Discovery and Development Research Institute at the City Campus on 18 January. The Institute will be created following a £5 million donation from John Dawson and his wife, Sam. John, a former student of the University, is a former CEO of Alliance Pharma which is a world-leading international healthcare organisation. 

The announcement is the latest in a series of projects, including last year’s opening of a £5 million anatomy centre, which is putting the University on the frontline of health-related education, training, research and innovation. 

The new Research Institute will play a key role in turning laboratory research and innovation into life-changing therapies for clinical practice, working closely with the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry. 

John Dawson said: “Fifty years on from graduating Pharmacy at Sunderland and having developed a career in that pharmaceutical industry, I was pleased to reconnect with the University a couple of years ago. 

“I was immediately impressed by the developments that had been achieved in that intervening half-century and were keen to assist the University to continue its development, particularly in the health arena. 

“I am therefore delighted to facilitate the University’s new Drug Discovery and Development Research Institute and look forward to working with the team as they bring projects to fruition”. 

The institute will be housed in the University’s Science Complex, which will be renamed the John Dawson Sciences Complex. 

Sir David Bell KCB DL, The University’s Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, said: “I am enormously grateful to John and San Dawson for their immense generosity in supporting this new Research Institute in the crucially important fields of drug discovery and development. The fact that John is one of us is an added bonus as his life and career demonstrate the good that our graduates do in so many different walks of life”. 

The Institute will focus on areas including the discovery of new medicines for the treatment of rare inherited metabolic diseases, the development of targeted delivery methods and technologies to improve pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, as well as the development and application of machine learning tools for early disease detection.