Strategy and Funding


In October 2021 the Sanger Institute entered its new Quinquennium and redefined its mission. Over the next five years the Institute will apply and explore genomic technologies at scale to advance understanding of biology and improve health. This is an expansion of the previous mission, taking us beyond human and pathogen biology and human health and into the realms of evolutionary biology, consideration of the Earth’s living environment and synthetic genomics.


Our science has three main goals:

  • To provide new insights into the normal biology of humans and other organisms.
  • To enhance understand of the causes and progression of human disease and provide the scientific basis for improving disease prevention and management.
  • To elucidate the evolutionary tree of life and to advance the scientific knowledge base for management of the living environment and for synthetic genomics.

Experimental Approaches

We have three major experimental approaches:

  • Analysis of DNA sequence differences between individual genomes of the same species. The sequence variation studied will be naturally occurring and engineered, inherited and somatically acquired and include differences between the genomes of individual humans, of individual isolates of disease-causing microbes or their vectors, and of individual cells. These studies will provide insights into the causal roles of genes in healthy and disease traits, into the histories of humans, microbes and cells and into the causes of sequence variation.
  • Analysis of gene expression and epigenomic features of the genome at the single cell level to discover and classify cell types in health and disease and to understand their developmental and functional relationships.
  • Analysis of reference genomes across the tree of life to understand evolution, provide insights into gene function and to generate resources for synthetic biology and monitoring the living environment.

Core Technologies

These approaches depend on several core technologies. We substantially invest in these, proactively conducting research and development to be at the leading edge of implementation, and to deliver large-scale science:

  • Nucleic acid sequencing
  • Mutagenesis
  • Cell culture
  • Microscopic and spatial imaging of nucleic acid profiles of cells in tissues
  • Computational analysis of the data volumes generated.

Empowering Global Research

We strongly champion open release of data, including resources, protocols, materials and publications we produce.

Through open engagement and collaboration with the scientific community world wide, the Sanger Institute empowers genome research across the globe.

Genome Research Limited

The Institute operates under the name Genome Research Limited (GRL). GRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wellcome and, as well as the Sanger Institute, includes Wellcome Connecting Science and the BioData Innovation Centre. Collectively GRL’s mission is to maximise the societal benefit of knowledge obtained from genome sequences. There are three elements to this mission:

  • Research: Advancing understanding of biology using genome sequences and other types of large-scale biological data.
  • Innovation: Applying genome science for human health and other societal benefits.
  • Learning and Engagement: Fostering knowledge exchange and discussion of the scientific, medical and wider implications of genomes.

Please view or download the GRL Strategic Overview submission for 2021-2026:

Wellcome Genome Campus

The Sanger Institute and its partners in GRL are located on the Wellcome Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire. The campus also houses our strategic partners the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute, as well as the ELIXIR hub, companies in the BioData Innovation Centre and the Genomics England Ltd (GEL) sequencing facility operated by Illumina. Over the coming years the Wellcome Genome Campus, through Wellcome Investments, will expand to two and a half times its current size and be developed into an international centre for scientific, business, cultural and educational activities arising from genomes and biodata.


The Sanger Institute, as part of the wider GRL, is fundamentally supported by a recurrent quinquennial core grant from Wellcome. Every five years GRL undergoes a thorough consideration of its scientific and organisational strategy by Wellcome through a series of reviews by panels of independent international experts.

October 2021 marked the beginning of the new Quinquennium for GRL and the Sanger Institute, with Wellcome endorsing the current strategy, mission and vision and awarding the five year funding requested.

In addition to the core funding from Wellcome, the Sanger Institute is supported by a number of external grants from funders including UK Research Councils, charities, philanthropic organisations and the EU.

Download our Annual Financial Statements

View or download Genome Research Limited’s annual financial report: