A world-leading centre in stem cell science and regenerative medicine is to be built in Edinburgh, ministers have confirmed.

Additional Scottish Executive funding of £24m will allow Edinburgh University to develop the £59m centre in collaboration with Scottish Enterprise.

Prof Ian Wilmut, formerly of the Roslin Institute, will be the director.

The project will draw on the country’s well-established strengths in regenerative medicine using stem cell technologies and allow Scotland to become a European leader in medical research, according to First Minister Jack McConnell.

The announcement comes as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is expected to make an announcement about research into hybrid embryos.

The research, which involves the creation of part-animal, part-human embryos, has attracted controversy but leading scientists believe its use could help patients with serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s and motor-neurone disease.

It is anticipated that the centre will be completed by 2010.