In our role as a world-leader in the sustained global effort to understand the genetic foundation of human disease, the Sanger Institute has been involved in many landmark achievements.

From our role in the discovery of the BRCA2 breast cancer gene, through the completion of the human genome sequence, to more recent discoveries in the genetics of common disease, we have been central to some of the most important genetic discoveries of the last 15 years.

Our achievements are testimony to the inspiration and effort of a growing staff population. Our adoption of new technologies has also dramatically shaped the development of the Institute.


  • The Sanger Centre is established, its aim: to play a substantial role in the sequencing, annotation and interpretation of the human genome. John Sulston is appointed Director


  • The Sanger Centre is officially opened by Fred Sanger
  • Fewer than 50 people work at the Sanger Centre


  • The Sanger Centre completes 1 million bases of worm and 100,000 bases of human sequence


  • The BRCA2 gene, implicated in breast cancer, is identified


  • Representatives from the sequencing centres involved in the Human Genome Project agree rapid data release principles at the Bermuda meeting
  • The Sanger Centre moves into purpose built accommodation in the grounds of Hinxton Hall


  • The yeast genome is completed: the Sanger Centre makes the largest contribution


  • The Institute publishes its 100th original research article
  • The Wellcome Trust ups its funding contribution from one-sixth to one-third of the human genome - more
  • The Sanger Centre and the Genome Sequencing Centre at St Louis complete a fifteen year project to sequence the first genome of an animal: the nematode worm - more
  • Sequence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis which causes TB is completed


  • Staff numbers reach 500
  • The first complete sequence of a human chromosome - 22 - is published in Nature


  • To coincide with the completion of the draft human genome, John Sulston stands down as Director of the Institute, he is replaced by Allan Bradley - more
  • The Ensembl Genome Browser is launched. Built in collaboration with the EBI, it contains genome databases for vertebrate species - making this information freely available - more
  • The Human Genome Sequencing Consortium announce the completion of the draft human genome sequence; a private enterprise also claims it has produced a draft sequence


  • The draft human genome is published in Nature - more
  • The Sanger Centre becomes the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and announces a £300 million five-year research programme, funded by the Wellcome Trust - more


  • Sir John Sulston, the Institute's former Director, is awarded a share in the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, for his work on the C. elegans genome, with Sydney Brenner and Bob Horvitz - more
  • Scientists identify the BRAF gene, implicated in 70% of melanomas - more
  • The malaria parasite sequence completed - more
  • The draft mouse sequence completed - more


  • The International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium announces the successful completion of the Human Genome Project, the Sanger Institute contributed nearly one third of the work, making it the single largest contributor - more
  • Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute completes two billion genetic letters - more
  • 50th anniversary of Watson and Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA


  • The Institute publishes its 500th original research article
  • The UK MRSA genome is decoded at the Sanger Institute - more
  • The finished, gold-standard human genome sequence is published in Nature - more


  • The Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium is established to find 'genetic signposts' for eight diseases by analyzing patient samples - more
  • The Wellcome Trust Genome Campus Extension is opened in a visit by HRH The Princess Royal - more


  • Scientists, led by the Sanger Institute, publish the C. difficile genome sequence - more
  • The Institute publishes its 1000th original research article
  • The Copy Number Variation Project publishes its findings in Nature - more


  • Researchers use mouse knockouts to uncover the critical role of microRNAs in the immune system - more


  • An international consortium announces the launch of the 1000 Genomes project: a project to sequence the genomes of 1000 individuals by the year 2011 - more
  • The new, global International Cancer Genome Consortium sets out to identify the key genetic mutations involved in up to 50 types of cancer - more
  • Institute's 1500th original research article


  • The Sanger Institute has more than 800 staff
  • A team publishes the complete genome sequence and an analysis of Schistosoma mansoni, a parasitic worm that is each year responsible for 280,000 deaths in sub-Saharan Africa - more
  • The first draft of the pig genome is completed by an international consortium, including the Sanger Institute - more
  • The first comprehensive analyses of two cancer genomes - a small cell lung cancer and a malignant melanoma - are published in Nature, identifying effectively all mutations present - more


  • Professor Leena Peltonen, a leading geneticist and head of Human Genetics at the Institute, dies after a long illness: her impact continues to be felt through the strengthening and developing of Human Genetics research at the Institute - read obituary
  • Professor Allan Bradley stands down as Director of the Sanger Institute to lead the development and direction of Kymab, a start-up biopharmaceutical company financed by the Wellcome Trust. Its focus is to translate the promise of his research into novel monoclonal antibody therapies and resources. - more
  • Professor Mike Stratton is appointed the new Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute - more
  • The Wellcome Trust launches the UK10K study, which will decode 10,000 human genomes in UK with the aim of finding the links between rare genetic changes and human disease - more
  • The 1000 Genomes Project publishes analysis of completed pilot phase, estimated to contain approximately 95 per cent of the genetic variation of any person on Earth. The full-scale studies will analyse 2,500 samples from 27 populations over the next two years - more
* quick link -