10 March 2014

Genome Campus appoints Director of Scientific Conferences and Engagement

New role is part of 10-year strategy to create a genomic knowledge hub on the Genome Campus

Dr Julian Rayner

Dr Julian Rayner [http://www.apcdr.org/]

The Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, which is home to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), has appointed a Director of Scientific Conferences and Engagement to further develop the campus as an internationally renowned centre for education and engagement in the area of genetics and genomics.

Current advances in genomic research, bioinformatics and technology present important opportunities and implications for human healthcare. As a world leader in this field, the Genome Campus is ideally placed to lead the way in communicating genomic and bioinformatics research, and their impact on health and disease to both specialists and the broader public. The long-term vision is to make the Genome Campus, which is based just south of Cambridge, the go-to destination, both physically and digitally, for understanding genomics and harnessing its power for society's benefit.

Dr Julian Rayner, senior group leader in the Malaria Programme at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, has been appointed to this new role. This will see him lead and build on the on-going work of the Sanger Institute's Public Engagement team and the Wellcome Trust Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences teams. He will also work closely with the teams providing the extensive training programme at the EBI.

With dedicated on-site training and conference facilities, the Wellcome Trust Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences programme currently brings over 3,000 international researchers and clinicians to the Genome Campus each year, with around 50 residential laboratory and computational courses, conferences, workshops and summer schools. The overseas programme provides training in Africa, South-East Asia and South/Central America in molecular techniques to aid research in and detection of infectious and non-infectious diseases. The Genome Campus also regularly hosts school groups and provides extension training for teachers. Dr Rayner's objective is to broaden these engagement and education programmes by reaching new audiences at all levels, from school students to clinicians, and continuing the efforts to expand training to other sites around the globe.

"I'm excited to be working with the talented engagement and education teams we have here on campus; this project and my role will provide them with the opportunity to reach more people in new and innovative ways," said Dr Rayner. "The Wellcome Trust Conference Centre is also currently undergoing an exciting and ambitious refurbishment that will see the installation of a glass roof, increasing space available for public exhibitions and will enable us to engage with new audiences."

" My personal goal is to ensure that this stunning and unique campus is seen as the place where everyone, not only scientists, can come to learn about the impact genomics will make on our lives. "

Dr Julian Rayner

Dr Rayner is an active researcher in the Malaria Programme, where he explores the molecular mechanisms that allow malaria parasites to recognise and invade human red blood cells in order to identify new vaccine targets. Dr Rayner will continue to be an active researcher in the Malaria Programme, but will now devote half of his time to his new role. While his new role is a significant new step, Dr Rayner has always devoted considerable time to engagement and outreach activities. This includes training researchers; giving talks to schools, teachers and community groups; taking part in the Sanger Institute's Beyond the Genome exhibit at the Royal Society's Summer Exhibition and working with visiting artists.

"I believe that communicating the process and outcomes of science is the fundamental responsibility of all researchers, but I have also found it to be a deeply enjoyable process that has enriched my own career," said Dr Rayner. "This new initiative will allow even more scientists to participate in such vital and exciting activities."

"Julian's clear scientific vision, strategic thinking and engaging and enthusiastic outlook will drive forward our education and engagement programmes," said Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Sanger Institute. "This will allow the Genome Campus to inform societal and scientific understanding of genomes."

"The Sanger Institute and the EBI's shared goal is to engage and educate the wider public about genomics, bioinformatics and the impact it will have on healthcare," said Professor Janet Thornton, Director of the EBI. "This joint initiative will see the Genome Campus become the destination for anyone fascinated by the potential of genomic research."

"My personal goal is to ensure that this stunning and unique campus is seen as the place where everyone, not only scientists, can come to learn about the impact genomics will make on our lives," added Dr Rayner.

Notes to Editors

The European Bioinformatics Institute

The European Bioinformatics Institute is part of EMBL, Europe's flagship laboratory for the life sciences. EMBL-EBI provides freely available data from life science experiments covering the full spectrum of molecular biology, and about 20 per cent of the institute is devoted to investigator-led research using computational approaches to unravel the secrets of life. Our extensive training programme helps researchers in academia and industry to make the most of the incredible amount of data being produced every day in life science experiments. We are a non-profit, intergovernmental organisation funded by EMBL member states. Our 500 staff hail from 43 countries, and we welcome a regular stream of visiting scientists throughout the year. We are located on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

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Wellcome Trust Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences

The Wellcome Trust Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences programme provides post-graduate training and scientific conferences at the forefront of biomedicine, with an emphasis on molecular approaches to understand, diagnose and treat genetic and infectious diseases. Based at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, we foster the open exchange of expertise, ideas and opinions between research and clinical communities across the world.

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The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is one of the world's leading genome centres. Through its ability to conduct research at scale, it is able to engage in bold and long-term exploratory projects that are designed to influence and empower medical science globally. Institute research findings, generated through its own research programmes and through its leading role in international consortia, are being used to develop new diagnostics and treatments for human 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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