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Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH)

The Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH) is an exciting joint venture between the MRC, BBSRC, STFC, EPSRC, NERC and Diamond Light Source that provides laboratory space and facilities for researchers in the life and physical sciences.

The RCaH is open for use by research teams from UK research organisations, on a competitive basis. The aim is to provide short, medium, and long-term research laboratory facilities for both life and physical science researchers conducting work at the facilities on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.


The RCaH is located on the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) site on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. It is adjacent to Diamond; a third-generation Synchrotron Radiation source providing world-leading beamlines for studies of the structure of matter across biology, environmental science, materials science, physics, chemistry and engineering.

It is also close to other leading facilities on the campus: the ISIS neutron source, Central Laser Facility, electron Bio-Imaging Centre and the  MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit and Mary Lyon Centre.


The RCaH provides a vibrant research environment that brings together life and physical sciences, and maximises the opportunities and synergy between the research groups and with the local facilities.

With two floors of laboratory space, there is capacity for around 180 researchers. Laboratories are well equipped with general physical or life science equipment. There are also several shared laboratory areas including cold rooms, dark room, instrument rooms, crystallisation suite and cell culture facilities and shared communal areas, including coffee, reception, seminar and meeting rooms. Full details on equipment available can be found on the RCaH website.

The Collaborative Computational Projects in Protein Crystallography (CCP-4) and Electron Microscopy (CCP-EM) are housed on the life science floor of the RCaH, supporting the development and use of a suite of software for macromolecular structure determination by X-ray crystallography and users of biological electron microscopy. The expression and purification platform of the Membrane Protein Laboratory is also situated on this floor.

On the physical sciences floor, provision has been made to house elements of the STFC Central Laser Facility that provides a unique set of laser based techniques and expertise specialising in ultrafast dynamics in solution phase and advanced laser based microscopy for real-time cellular imaging.

This video provides an overview of the facilities available and the benefits it can bring to your research.


The RCaH is accessible, on a competitive basis, to research teams from UK research organisations in accordance with normal UKRI eligibility rules.

Researchers applying to work in the RCaH are expected to be employed by a UK university or research institute that will administer the grant or fellowship award. Researchers will then be seconded to the RCaH for the duration of their work there.

Use of the RCaH is free at the point of access and there will be no charge payable for use of the core facilities there. However, there may be instances where the RCaH will need to make a charge for core consumables and this should be discussed with the director.

Applicants wishing to make use of the RCaH should visit the RCaH website and contact the director, Professor David J Payne to discuss accommodation and support needs.

Contact: Professor David J Payne


The MRC is keen to support projects that utilise its allocated space within the building, where proximity to, and partnership with, the Harwell Campus facilities and technical expertise is beneficial.

Applications to utilise the RCaH are invited through the MRC’s standard funding schemes including research grants, programme grants, new investor research grants, career development awards and senior fellowships, following the normal deadlines. Applications will be managed in accordance with the usual MRC principles and procedures for the relevant funding scheme.

It is envisaged that most grant applications will be within the remit of the Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board (MCMB), and all should be submitted to the MCMB in time for the appropriate deadline; any application that is better considered by another MRC board will be transferred as necessary. Applications for career development awards and MRC senior fellowships should be submitted in accordance with the appropriate fellowship deadlines.

The MRC will usually fund 80% of the full economic cost of your research through your institution. Where equipment is requested to be based at the RCaH, the MRC will fund up to 100% of the costs under the condition that the RCaH retains ownership of the equipment after the grant support has ended. Institutions should not include estates costs for individuals whilst they are located at the RCaH; these are covered through core RCaH funding. Principal investigators wishing to split their time between the RCaH and their host institution should adequately cost this into their application to ensure they can continue to fulfil their supervisory roles.

Those intending to apply to the MRC for funding to work in the RCaH are encouraged to contact Dr Anne McGavigan at MRC Head Office to discuss their ideas.

Investigators from MRC units and institutes wishing to base some of their work and staff at the RCaH are also asked to contact MRC Head Office in the first instance.

Contact: Anne McGavigan
Email: Anne.McGavigan@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk