The Wellcome Trust is investing £27 million in a state-of-the-art genome-sequencing hub for Genomics England, the government’s project to decipher 100,000 complete genetic codes, and the world-leading science of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
The Wellcome Trust’s investment will alllow Genomics England to become part of one of the world’s most vibrant DNA science and technology clusters: the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton, near Cambridge.
Genomics England’s presence on the campus, which is home to the Sanger Institute, the European Bioinformatics Institute and several biotechnology companies, will facilitate collaborations with world-class scientists and bioinformaticians and with the life science industry. This will help to meet the project’s aims of bringing the benefits of genomic medicine to NHS patients, and building an unparalleled resource for clinical interpretation of genomic data and medical research.
As well as building the sequencing facility, the Wellcome Trust, which already spends almost £300m on genomics research in a typical year, will support and enhance the Genomics England project in other ways, for example by funding clinical interpretation and medical research that uses its data. The Trust is encouraging proposals for this support from researchers, clinicians and other groups.
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “Understanding humanity’s genetic code is not only going to be fundamental to the medicine of the future. It is an essential part of medicine today. In rare congenital diseases, in cancer and in infections, genomic insights are already transforming diagnosis and treatment.
“The Wellcome Trust has invested more than £1 billion in genome research that has built this understanding, including pivotal contributions to the Human Genome Project, the world-leading science of the Sanger Institute, and critical work in global health, medical ethics and public engagement. Genomics England will further exploit this knowledge for medical advances that help patients, within a robust ethical framework that relies on their informed consent, so supporting its efforts is a logical next step. We will be proud to host its sequencing hub alongside Sanger’s at our Hinxton Genome Campus, and to fund researchers who use its data to investigate disease.”
The Trust’s investment in Genomics England is being announced along with a package of further support for the initiative from the government.
The Wellcome Trust Genome Campus is home to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), and several spin-out companies and collaborative projects with industry.
Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Chief Executive of the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus at Hinxton, said: "We are delighted that Genomics England will co-locate on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus and we look forward to working together to gain insights that will serve patients and society through genomic science."
The Sanger Institute is one of the world’s foremost centres for genomic science, often known as the 'home of the genome' as a third of the Human Genome Project was completed there. It has led the way in decoding the genome and understanding its significance to human health over the past 15 years.
The EBI, part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, provides freely available data from life science experiments, performs basic research in computational biology, and offers an extensive user training programme, supporting researchers in academia and industry.
Earlier this year, GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical company, opened its Centre for Therapeutic Target Validation on the Campus, a joint initiative with the Sanger Institute and EBI to improve drug discovery by better understanding the biological origins of disease.
Other spin-out companies based on the campus include VH2, which is developing antibodies for gut infections, Congenica, which is developing diagnostics for genetic disease, and 14m, which is developing genomic and informatics tools for improving clinical decision-making in cancer care.
Genomics England will begin moving into the new sequencing hub at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in July 2015, with installation expected to be complete so large-scale sequencing can begin by January 2016. Genomics England will occupy the ground floor of the building, with Sanger Institute sequencing facilities on upper floors.