Frequently asked questions

It is an independent, not-for-profit foundation established by GlaxoSmithKine in 2010. Overseen by a governing board, the Foundation provides funding and support to visiting researchers to run research projects at the Open Lab at GSK’s facility, the Tres Cantos Medicines Development Campus near Madrid in Spain.

Researchers supported by the Foundation are encouraged to disseminate their work and results to ensure their discoveries are also available to other researchers.

  • The Tres Cantos site in Spain is home to GSK’s specialist research facility, the Tres Cantos Medicines Development Campus, which is focused on discovering and developing new medicines for Diseases of the Developing World
  • More than 100 scientific staff work at the campus in a range of specialisms including chemistry, biology, biochemistry, toxicology, assay development, and in vivo and in vitro and high throughput screening
  • This site is also home to the Open Lab which is integrated within the facility’s three Discovery Performance Units focused on malaria, TB and Kinetoplastids
  • The Campus has alliances with key groups including Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (GATB), Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative (DNDi) and Wellcome Trust.

The Open Lab is located within Tres Cantos and provides the opportunity for independent researchers to access GSK facilities, resources and expertise to help them advance their own research into diseases of the developing world. The Open Lab provides an opportunity for visiting scientists from leading international institutions to work at the campus for a dedicated period of time, accessing GSK drug discovery expertise as part of an integrated team to discover new medicines for diseases of the developing world.

  • At present, there are 24 projects in the open lab portfolio with 12 projects currently active across malaria, TB and kinetoplastid disease areas
  • The Open Lab has hosted more than 25 visiting scientists to date.
  • Proposals can be submitted at any time on the website

In addition to funding GSK provides in-kind contributions to Open Lab projects, including

  • Access to the onsite ultra high-throughput screening facility which is specialised in identifying chemical starting points for drug discovery activities
  • Access to Biosafety Level 3 in vitro and in vivo laboratories
  • Access to the Discovery Performance Units focused on malaria, TB and Kinetoplastids are equipped with all the human and technical resources needed to effectively address the challenges of each disease
  • Access and support from a GSK mentor throughout the duration of the project
  • More than 120 applications have been received for Open Lab projects.
  • There are 24 projects in the portfolio across malaria, TB and kinetoplastid diseases. 19 of these projects are funded by the Foundation. There are 14 projects currently active in the open lab.

The Open Lab has hosted more than 25 visiting scientists to date.

Proposals can be submitted at any time via the Foundation’s website ( and are reviewed by the Foundation’s Governing Board and Trustees. We’ve very keen for anyone interested to call us to discuss ideas before submitting anything. 

Projects are designed to explore new ideas that may lead to finding new medicines for diseases of the developing world. Projects are focused on early stage drug discovery and could involve research into new targets, tools, screening, lead identification and optimisation.

They vary but usually last around 12 months; currently the shortest is three months with the longest being two years.

Results generated will be made public through publications, presentations and/or databases.

A key requirement of projects funded by the Foundation is that the collaborating institution agrees to the principles of WIPO Re:Search, which make resulting IP freely available for the development of new medicines for neglected diseases that can be delivered to the least developed countries.

Scientists funded by the Foundation have full access to the resources and facilities at Tres Cantos and work alongside the scientists at the campus to advance their research.  This capability is not available in academia and aims to create an innovation hub for diseases of the developing world that will draw in academic investigators and build on the extensive funding of basic exploratory science in this area.

The combination of facilities and expertise enables the campus to take care of all scientific needs of drug discovery and development from screening campaigns to clinical Proof of Concept studies.

During their time at the Open Lab, visiting scientists work with GlaxoSmithKline researchers as part of an integrated team with clear objectives and milestones.  From day one, visiting scientists are each matched with a mentor whose experience will benefit their research project. Working closely together helps to guide the research while the industry know-how and specific expertise of the mentor and wider team helps ensure its successful completion.

As the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation was established as a not-for-profit organisation, it operates independently of GSK through its Governing Board and Trustees.

The Governing Board is comprised of world-leading experts in the field of research into diseases of the developing world to advise and guide the Foundation in meeting its objectives. The Board also ensures that projects selected are of a consistently high standard and equally address the three diseases areas. The Board includes the Trustees of the Foundation led by Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge who make the ultimate decisions in approving projects and releasing funds.

GSK’s specialist research centre at Tres Cantos has a long-standing relationship with public-private partnerships which focus on global health priorities such as malaria, TB and kinetoplastids. Scientists at Tres Cantos work closely with these partnerships, with groups including the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Global Alliance for TB drug Development (GATB Alliance) to further its research in developing new medicines.  The Open Lab recently welcomed support from the European Commission as part of FP7 COFUND program to advance the Foundation’s work in tackling diseases of the developing world.

The Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation welcomes contact from anyone interested in joint efforts to tackle the diseases of the developing world.

The Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation values the role that partnerships play in bringing about the fundamental research needed to achieve these ambitious goals. When forming research partnerships, the Foundation looks for organisations which share its principles.

There are currently too few options available to fight these diseases, either because medicines do not exist, are too expensive or because the infectious organisms are becoming increasingly resistant to treatments. The old ways have not worked and the problems need a bold new approach.