A Jewish family foundation today announced a £5m grant to support the creation of a state-of-the-art facility at the Royal Free Hospital for research into cancer and other deadly diseases.

Royal free Hospital

Royal free Hospital

The Pears Foundation’s largest ever donation brings plans for a new building housing the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation a huge step closer to fruition.

The Pears Building, as it will be known, will see leading academics working just metres from patients in the hospital next door to accelerate research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases including cancer and HIV. They will also explore the potential for using stem cells to grow new organs for transplantation.

“The Royal Free London has a well-earned reputation as one of the UK’s leading teaching hospitals and with the exciting partnership with UCL, we are confident this new institute will deliver research breakthroughs and treatments for the benefit of thousands of patients,” said Foundation executive chair Trevor Pears. “My brothers and I are proud to support our local NHS hospital.”

While around £7million of the £42million building project is still to be raised, the Royal Free Charity hopes that construction work will begin next year and be completed in the second quarter of 2017. The charity and UCL hope to raise a further £25m to support five research teams.

The Pears Foundation – established by Trevor Pears and his brothers Mark and David in 1992 – stresses that its work in “fostering respect and promoting active citizenship” . Trevor – who helped encourage thousands to increase their involvement with good causes through his chairmanship of the Give More campaign – told the Jewish News: “Our involvement with the Institute is an expression of our family’s commitment to both Jewish and British values ”.

Chris Burghes, chief executive of the Royal Free Charity, said the grant was “a major step towards achieving our vision to create the hospital of the future, enabling pioneering medical research that transforms the patient experience”. He added: “The Pears Building will be on the doorstep of the Royal Free Hospital, bringing award-winning scientists closer to patients, allowing them greater access to clinical trials and the latest medicine”.

The new building represents the biggest construction project undertaken by the Royal Free since it moved to Hampstead in 1972.

The Pears Foundation’s previous largest donation was a recent commitment of £3million to the planned new national rehabilitation facility for injured service personnel. It has also donated £1.75 million to the Imperial War Museum and a further £1million to BIRAX, a Britis-Israeli initiative to research stem cell therapies – the latter having echoes of the work that will be carried out by the new Royal Free facility.