× Medicines Discovery Catapult

In March 2020, the UK government announced that it would be launching a national testing effort to support the UK’s fight against coronavirus via the establishment of a network of  high capacity testing laboratories, known as “Lighthouse Labs”.

Medicines Discovery Catapult were tasked with the challenge of coordinating the creation of the UK’s Lighthouse Labs Network and delivery of one of those labs, based at Alderley Park in Cheshire.

Professor Chris Molloy, Medicines Discovery Catapult CEO, was appointed Director of the UK Lighthouse Labs Network and Professor Peter Simpson, Medicines Discovery Catapult CSO, was appointed Director of the Alderley Park Laboratory.

The Lighthouse Labs take their name from the PCR testing technology which uses fluorescent light to detect the virus.

Universities, research institutes and commercial companies across the UK lent testing equipment and expertise in response to this vital national need.


Our leadership team was formed during unprecedented circumstances to support the UK’s national requirement for COVID-19 testing. Meet the leadership team >


We have a range of scientific and operational roles. View all of the current Lighthouse Labs vacancies >

Lighthouse Lab Stories

Dr Sarah George, Chief of People

“The power of a great team. Our team is now over 600 people strong from a really diverse range of scientific fields – different industries and stages in their careers…”
Read more >

Samantha McCoy, Bioscience Lead

“I have always thought that being kind is the best way to be and have realised this even more so whilst working at Lighthouse labs…”
Read more >

Ria Horsley, Automation Scientist

“It’s a combination of people/departments working together and sharing knowledge/expertise that creates a strong and efficient business/company…”
Read more >

Support for the Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab

The speed at which the Alderley Park Lighthouse programme has been set up to operate at this scale is nothing short of remarkable. A huge credit to everyone involved. The ability to accurately process thousands of tests a day, now over one million in total, is crucial to reduce the impact of this devastating pandemic as part of a successful test-trace-isolate strategy.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Welcome Trust

These new skilled roles at Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab will provide a significant boost to the UK’s growing diagnostic industry. It really is wonderful to see so many important jobs being created, from those at the start of their careers, bringing fresh ideas while building valuable skills, to highly experienced experts able to oversee entire laboratories.

I would like to thank all of those who are working around the clock with exceptional purpose to make sure everyone who needs a test can get one.

Lord Bethell, Health Minister

“We are delighted to see that Alderley Park has been designated as a national testing centre. This will allow the University of Manchester to build on our already strong partnership with Alderley Park to deliver fast and effective testing, as part of our wider contribution to tackling Covid-19.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, FRS, FRSB, FMedSci,  President & Vice-Chancellor, Professor of Physiology, University of Manchester

“The life sciences sector across the North of England is working hard to combat COVID-19 with new tests, treatments and vaccines already under development. The regional COVID-19 testing centre at Alderley Park coordinated by the Medicines Discovery Catapult represents an essential step forward in scaling up the UK’s coordinated national ability to track and combat this disease. Bionow members have come forward in their droves to support this initiative and will be central partners in delivering it successfully.”

Dr John Stageman OBE, Chairman of Bionow & LifeArc

“Manchester Metropolitan University is proud to be supporting this national and regional effort to provide key expertise to the formation of the North West COVID-19 screening facility. Through partnerships across the North West, together I am sure we can support the national effort to help to combat the pandemic.”

Professor Steve Decent, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Manchester Metropolitan University

“The University of Manchester in concert with other North West Universities strongly believes that the most efficient and safe way to achieve test capacity increase is to support with equipment, consumables and most importantly volunteer staff, the establishment of a single high throughput facility for COVID-19 testing for the North West of England. The Alderley Park Facility will allow us to rapidly and safely ramp up test capacity. As the World Health Organisation Head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has stated the key message must be: test, test, test.”

Professor Paul Klapper, Clinical Virology, University of Manchester

“Alderley Park is an outstanding facility for Life Science work, it has top quality, large scale, laboratory facilities, a great management team, access to high quality talent and a connected location.  In the current crisis it makes absolute sense for these facilities to be used immediately as a hub for testing, and as a home for future diagnostic work both for the private and  public sector.”

Chris Brinsmead CBE (ex Co-Chair of the Alderley Park task force)