Issue 48

July 1997

IC Reporter



The merger of the Royal Postgraduate Medical School and the Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School with Imperial College will take place on 1 August. IC Reporter outlines the history of all the institutes and the structure of the Imperial College School of Medicine.

Chairman of the Governing Body, Lord Vincent

"As I write this in mid-July we have just heard that the Imperial College Bill has received the Royal Assent and that the merger of Imperial College with the Royal Postgraduate Medical School and the Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School will take place on 1 August as planned.

This will be the start of a new era in Imperial's distinguished history and I could not let it pass without, on behalf of the Governors, welcoming to the new and enlarged College all those of you in the joining medical schools. I should also like to express our most sincere thanks to all of you, across the whole of the new College, who have devoted so much time and hard work over the past months to making the merger possible. Joining our three institutions together has been an immense task, which has involved sustained effort by everyone over a long period, and we are most grateful.

We are now bringing into existence a College which in financial terms will be one of the largest educational and research institutions in the United Kingdom and will contain the largest school of medicine in the country. While size is not important in itself, it brings with it great opportunities - for better teaching, for improved cooperation in research, both within and between disciplines, for the more flexible and cost-effective use of resources, and for enhancing still further our already world-class reputation.

Much remains to be done if we are to take full advantage of these opportunities and I and my fellow Governors are very conscious that the next few months will be a challenge for us all as the new College's organisation and procedures are tested and refined. There is, however, tremendous potential waiting to be tapped and we look forward to working with all of you to realise it."

IC School of Medicine


The School comprises nine divisions across the four main campuses, at Charing Cross, The Hammersmith, Royal Brompton and St Mary's. The names of the divisions and their heads are Biomedical Sciences (Professor John Caldwell); Clinical Sciences Centre (acting head Professor Elizabeth Simpson); Diagnostic & Investigative Sciences (Professor Stephen Bloom); Medicine (Professor Mark Walport); National Heart & Lung Institute (Professor Philip Poole-Wilson); Neuroscience & Psychological Medicine (Professor Christopher Kennard); Paediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology (Professor Murdoch Elder); Primary Care & Population Health Sciences (Professor Brian Jarman); Surgery, Anaesthetics & Intensive Care (Professor Sean Hughes).

The heads of divisions will comprise part of the principal's Advisory Group which will manage the School. The other members working alongside the principal are a deputy principal, three vice principals, the director of the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, director of the Medical Education Unit and the secretary of the School.

New medical course

Undergraduate entry on the new course has been increased from 250 to 285 per year. The six-year curriculum, which includes study for an integral modular BSc degree, will start in October 1998. For much of the first part of the curriculum the students will be based in the Biomedical Sciences Building, currently under construction on the main Imperial College campus in South Kensington. The course is fully integrated so all information is learned in a clinical context and related directly to clinical experience. It combines the best of the existing courses at Charing Cross and Westminster and St Mary's with more emphasis on medical ethics and law, communication skills and information technology.


The 1996 research assessment exercise indicates the high calibre research which can be expected from the School. Pre-clinical and clinical studies across the main sites were rated between four and five-star and there were starred research groups in Immunology and Bacterial Pathogenicity. A coherent research structure for the School will be developed by the vice principal (research) to build on this success.

Facts and figures

Total turnover of the enlarged Imperial College will be approximately £300 million, making it the largest UK academic institution in financial terms. External research income will be around £100 million.

The School of Medicine will constitute 24 per cent of the student body, 49 per cent of the academic staff, 48 per cent of the total income, and 51 per cent of the research income of the entire College. The agreed intention is that on the full formation of the School of Medicine it should neither subsidise nor be subsidised by the rest of the College. A medical vote formula for the distribution of resources is being developed.


Professor Christopher Edwards, Principal of the School of Medicine

"I am delighted that after a great deal of hard work by many people that we are on track to get the Royal Assent. A great deal of our success will depend on our ability to exploit the interface between ICSM and the rest of the College. A tangible result of one such collaboration was the award last week of £3 million by the Wolfson Foundation to build a Genetic Therapies Centre in the College. I have every expectation that when in 2007 the College celebrates its centenary it will look back on 1997 as a landmark year and that in the next ten years we can establish ICSM as a world-class medical school".

Professor John Caldwell, head of the Biomedical Sciences Division

"1 August 1997 will bring the biggest change at St Mary's since we joined the Imperial family in 1988. The last vestiges of an independent existence are now well and truly gone and we are at the heart of the most exciting development in British medical education and research. We are proud to be part of this and look forward to contributing to the excellence of the Imperial College School of Medicine".

Professor Christopher Kennard, head of the Neuroscience and Psychological Medicine Division

"The new Division brings together all the academic staff currently on the Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary's hospital sites carrying out research in basic and clinical neuroscience and psychological medicine. This offers tremendous opportunity to develop a major Neuroscience Centre within the School of Medicine... Access to all the resources available within the new School and elsewhere in Imperial College, will enable us to develop very strong programmes of research, which should attract considerable funding from external sources".

Professor Mark Walport, head of the Medicine Division

"The formation of ICSM brings together a series of outstanding groups in medicine. New scientific collaborations are developing throughout the medical school. There are important opportunities for forming new research groups by drawing on strengths throughout the whole of Imperial College. One example is the application of biomaterials research to the development of artificial livers; other important areas of developing collaboration are in bioengineering, structural biology, imaging and computing. The challenge for ICSM will be to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts".


Imperial College

The Imperial College of Science and Technology was established by Royal Charter in 1907 by the federation of the Royal College of Science (1845), the Royal School of Mines (1851) and the City and Guilds College (1884). The intention was to create one institution of the highest standing for advanced technological education. It became a school of the University of London in the following year, 1908. Imperial's main campus is situated in South Kensington between the Royal Albert Hall and the Science Museum.

St Mary's Hospital Medical School

St Mary's Hospital
St Mary's Hospital, Photography by Phil Sayer.

Imperial was renamed the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in 1988 when St Mary's Hospital Medical School became the fourth constituent college of IC. St Mary's was founded in 1854 and has been a school of medicine of the University of London since 1900. It has a long tradition as a research centre. The medical school is adjacent to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington.

National Heart and Lung Institute

St Mary's Hospital
Royal Brompton Hospital, Photography by Phil Sayer.

The Imperial College School of Medicine was created on 1 August 1995 when the NHLI merged with IC. The NHLI, in association with the Royal Brompton Hospital, forms the largest specialist research, teaching and development centre in the UK for the study of heart, lung and cardiovascular disease. The three hospitals from which the NHLI evolved were founded in the mid 1800s: the Royal Brompton (1841), the London Chest (1848) and the National Heart (1857). It is located in Dovehouse Street, off Fulham Road.

Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School

Charing Cross Hospital
Charing Cross Hospital, Photography by Phil Sayer.

The Charing Cross Hospital and Medical School were founded in 1818, situated in Villiers Street off the Strand. T H Huxley is a famous alumnus of the School who was also one of IC's distinguished nineteenth century teachers. There was no available space for expansion at the Villiers Street site and in 1973 the new Hospital and Medical School were opened by the Queen at the current location in Fulham Palace Road.

The Westminster Hospital was founded in 1719, facing Westminster Abbey in Parliament Square. The Medical School was established in 1834. In 1939, the Hospital and Medical School moved to Horseferry Road. The last major development came in 1993 with the opening of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, situated in Fulham Road.

The two medical schools merged in 1984 to become the Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School.

Royal Postgraduate Medical School

Hammersmith Hospital
Hammersmith Hospital, Photography by Phil Sayer.

The School is mainly situated on the Hammersmith Hospital site in Du Cane Road, next to Wormwood Scrubs. It is the only multidisciplinary centre for postgraduate education in the UK.

A Royal Charter was granted in 1931 and the School was opened as a School of the University of London four years later.

The RPMS has operated under various auspices, including the British Postgraduate Medical Federation. It became the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in 1967.

The Hammersmith - The First Fifty Years of the RPMS at Hammersmith Hospital 1935-1985. James Calnan.

Photography by Phil Sayer

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Last Revised: 22 July 1997