Innovation at the Sanger Institute

Innovation at the Sanger Institute

Delivering the Sanger Institute vision

What is translation?

Here at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, we use the term translation to describe the process of deriving, nurturing and developing novel research ideas into therapeutic, diagnostic and commercial products or services.


Our Translation Team collaborates with the Sanger researchers who work on basic as well as translational projects. The Institute has a proud heritage of achieving impact through rapid dissemination of research findings, data and materials, but the development of scientific discoveries for human health benefit often requires different approaches and activities.


The advent of clinical genomics (use of genome sequencing to inform patient diagnosis and care) and the recognition of the need to proactively progress research opportunities with healthcare potential led to the formulation of a Translation strategy at Sanger in 2011. The strategy’s aim is to optimise the contribution of Sanger’s science to healthcare and to help make this happen, a Translation Team was created in 2012 with a remit to identify, partner and develop the science that has translation potential.

Deciding on the best approach

The guiding principle we use in deciding on a course action for translating a project is considering first how the healthcare benefits of that particular science can be maximized. The course of action open to us varies from early public release of information/data to the protection and commercialisation of IP.

Our methods encompass several not-for-profit and for-profit modes of translation:


• Open release of data & publication of scientific discoveries
• Licensing of intellectual property (IP) in an exclusive or non-exclusive manner
• Collaboration with industrial partners
• Formation of spin out not-for-profit activities
• Formation of spin out for-profit companies
• Direct commercialisation of our science


Our Translation Team regularly engages with all core members of Sanger’s Faculty in order to help them identify and nurture promising opportunities at an early stage. Members of the Sanger Institute’s Faculty are therefore encouraged to consider all possibilities but are not expected to carry out translational activities. For those of them who do engage in translation, the potential impact on their scientific productivity is carefully considered and arrangements are made to manage conflicts of interest. The importance of establishing industrial networks is also recognised and our Translation Team networks extensively with corporations and commercial entities outside of academia to help develop a robust ecosystem that is able to support new business development opportunities.

Translation Team