17 May 2010

Professor Mike Stratton appointed new Director

World-leading cancer genome expert appointed new Director of Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Professor Mike Stratton.

Professor Mike Stratton. [Wellcome Library, London]

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The Wellcome Trust today announces the appointment of Professor Mike Stratton as the new Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Professor Stratton has been Deputy Director of the Institute since 2007, where he heads the highly successful Cancer Genome Project and is a leader of the International Cancer Genome Consortium.

Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "On behalf of the Wellcome Trust, I would like to congratulate Mike Stratton on his appointment as Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Mike is an exceptional scientist who has made major discoveries about the genetic mechanisms of cancer."

"Scientists at the Sanger Institute have made world-leading contributions to our understanding of the human genome and its variation in health and disease. They have also sequenced many other genomes, including those of many of the infectious organisms that cause much human misery and disease. Mike Stratton is ideally positioned to lead the work at the Sanger Institute which has enormous potential to result in major health benefits for future generations."

Professor Stratton's appointment has also been welcomed by Dr Eric Lander, Director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard: "Mike Stratton is an outstanding scientist and a world leader in cancer genomics. He is a superb choice to be Director of the Sanger Institute and I look forward to working with him. There are extraordinary opportunities for collaboration to ensure that the fruits of the human genome project are brought to the clinic."

Speaking about his appointment, Professor Stratton says: "It is a truly extraordinary challenge and great privilege to be appointed Director of the Sanger Institute. The Institute is currently on the crest of a wave of discoveries in revealing how genetic variation in human beings and in infectious agents cause disease. I aim to build ambitiously on the Institute's current leadership in large scale analysis of genomes and experimental studies in model organisms to develop cellular systems that will explore human biology and to provide transformative insights into how diseases develop.

" On behalf of the Wellcome Trust, I would like to congratulate Mike Stratton on his appointment as Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Mike is an exceptional scientist who has made major discoveries about the genetic mechanisms of cancer. "

Sir Mark Walport

"In 10 to 20 years' time it is conceivable that we will all have our genomes sequenced as a routine. Our Institute will make a major contribution to understanding what these sequences mean and will be a leading voice in society's consideration of how they should be used in order to achieve our aim of improving human health."

The appointment of Mike Stratton follows the decision of Professor Allan Bradley in March this year to step down as Director of the Institute after ten years to found a start-up company and to focus on his research. Professor Bradley was appointed Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in 2000, taking on the challenge, responsibility and opportunity from founding Director Sir John Sulston. He built on the success of the Institute's pivotal role in the Human Genome Project and transformed the direction of its research. Professor Bradley will assume the title of Director Emeritus.

Sir Mark Walport said: "I would also like to thank Allan Bradley for his leadership and exceptional personal contribution during the last decade. Under his directorship the Institute developed an outstanding faculty, forged many new partnerships in areas of human, animal and pathogen genetics and published the results of ground-breaking research in a series of outstanding research publications and databases, building a well-earned reputation for the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute as a world-leading research institute."

Notes to Editors

Professor Mike Stratton

Professor Stratton qualified in medicine and then trained as a histopathologist, having been inspired by the understanding of disease processes that can be revealed by microscopy. During his training, he recognised the opportunities to understand causes of cancer through molecular biology, which became the focus of his PhD. He later joined The Institute of Cancer Research as a group leader, where he is Professor of Cancer Genetics there.

Professor Stratton joined the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in 2000 and has been Deputy Director since 2007. He leads the highly successful Cancer Genome Project and is a leader of the International Cancer Genome Consortium.

His interests are in the genetics of cancer and in his earlier work focused on genes that increase susceptibility to cancer, such as BRCA2, a gene that, when mutated, greatly increases a woman's risk of breast cancer. His team at the Sanger Institute studies the pathology of cancer genomes, conducting high-throughput, genome-wide searches for acquired, rather than inherited, mutations in human cancer in order to identify new cancer genes, to understand processes of mutation in human cancers and to reveal the role of genome structure in determining abnormalities of cancer genomes. In these studies Mike's team discovered mutations in the BRAF and ERBB2 genes in melanoma and lung cancer, respectively, and have described the patterns of acquired mutation in human cancer genomes.

More on Mike Stratton.

Professor Allan Bradley

Professor Bradley was appointed Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in 2000, taking on the challenge, responsibility and opportunity from founding Director John Sulston. He steered the Institute through dramatic change into a new era of research, including building a Faculty of around forty researchers whose work would exploit the genomic sequences of organisms to develop biological understanding and potential healthcare benefits. Under his leadership the Institute forged new partnerships in human genetics, informatics, pathogen genetics and mouse and zebrafish genetics: the numbers of research papers published has increased fivefold.

Professor Bradley will focus on the development of a promising novel technology in mouse genetics resulting from findings from his laboratory work, overseeing a new start-up company in the Cambridge area with significant investment from the Wellcome Trust. He will continue to lead a research lab at the Institute as one of the Institute's Faculty of leading researchers.

More on Allan Bradley.

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, which receives the majority of its funding from the Wellcome Trust, was founded in 1992. The Institute is responsible for the completion of the sequence of approximately one-third of the human genome as well as genomes of model organisms and more than 90 pathogen genomes. In October 2006, new funding was awarded by the Wellcome Trust to exploit the wealth of genome data now available to answer important questions about health and disease.

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The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We support the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. Our breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. We are independent of both political and commercial interests.

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