1 August 2014

Genome Campus will host UK NHS 100,000 genomes project

Sanger Institute and Wellcome Trust Genome Campus will host a £200 million project to sequence 100,000 NHS patients' genomes

Visualisation of the new £27 million Sequencing centre (left), hosted on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus. It will house the sequencing facilities of both the Genomics England's UK 100,000 Genomes Project and the Sanger Institute.

Visualisation of the new £27 million Sequencing centre (left), hosted on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus. It will house the sequencing facilities of both the Genomics England's UK 100,000 Genomes Project and the Sanger Institute. [Kier Group PLC]

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UK Genomic research into cancer and rare disease has been boosted by a £200 million investment announced by UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Genomics England, a company created by the Department of Health, is partnering with commercial sequencing company Illumina to decipher the genetic codes of 100,000 people in the UK to investigate the genetics of cancer and rare genetic diseases.

The work will be carried out in a £27 million sequencing centre that is being funded and built by the Wellcome Trust on its Genome Campus in Hinxton, near Cambridge. In addition, the Medical Research Council is providing £24 million to ensure that the resulting genomic data donated by participants can be properly collected, stored and analysed by scientists.

"This agreement will see the UK lead the world in genetic research within years. I am determined to do all I can to support the health and scientific sector to unlock the power of DNA, turning an important scientific breakthrough into something that will help deliver better tests, better drugs and above all better care for patients," says Prime Minister David Cameron. "As our plan becomes a reality, I believe we will be able to transform how devastating diseases are diagnosed and treated in the NHS and across the world, while supporting our best scientists and life science businesses to discover the next wonder drug or breakthrough technology."

The new sequencing hub will be housed in a three-storey, state-of-the-art building alongside that of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute's sequencing operation. The building is expected to be completed in summer 2015. The project aims to maximise the benefits of genomics research on healthcare, nurturing science research in the UK and helping the National Health Service to lead the world in delivering health benefits to its patients.

Genomics England's presence on the campus, which is home to the Sanger Institute, the European Bioinformatics Institute, and a number of new biotechnology companies, will facilitate collaborations with world-class scientists and bioinformaticians, and with the life science industry. At the same time, the Sanger Institute will be able to increase capacity and improve delivery, supporting its research for the future.

" 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. "

Professor Sir Mike Stratton

"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." says Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Sanger Institute.

As well as building the sequencing facility, the Wellcome Trust spends almost £300 million on genomic research in a typical year and 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.

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 the Sanger Institute's at our Hinxton genome campus, and to fund researchers who use its data to investigate disease."

Notes to Editors

Genomics England

Genomics England was incorporated on 17 April 2013 as a company to take forward the Prime Minister's 100,000 Genome Project. The Project will introduce high-tech DNA mapping for rare diseases patients and those with cancer or infectious diseases and link that new data to the patient's medical records. This will give doctors a new advanced understanding of a patient's genetic make-up, condition, and treatment needs, ensuring they have access to the right drugs and personalised care far quicker than ever before. Genomics England Limited is owned by the UK Department of Health.

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The Medical Research Council

The Medical Research Council has been at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health for more than a century. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers' money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Twenty-nine MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms.

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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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