Genome Decoders: Human Whipworm

Genome Decoders: The Human Whipworm

The Genome Decoders project brings together more than 50 schools across the UK with scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, EMBL-EBI and Wormbase to empower A‐level students to annotate the whole genome of the Human Whipworm (Trichuris trichiura).

About the Genome Decoders Project

Envisioned and organised by Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement and the Institute of Research in Schools (IRIS) this is the first time that a parasitic worm will have its genome fully curated. All the participating students need to experience first hand the latest bioinformatics techniques used in genomics is a computer, web browser and internet connection.

The students will be analysing and interpreting gene prediction models and sequence data using the genome browser APOLLO to predict the structure and location of an estimated 15,000 genes.

The project officially launched at the Wellcome Genome Campus in September 2017 and the first scrutinised sections of the whipworm genome are already being returned by pupils. To date more than 1,000 students across the UK are registered and actively annotating the genome.

When completed, it is intended that pupils making substantive contributions to the final genome reference will be included as contributors on any research publications – making this the first true participatory genome annotation project of its kind.


If you need help or have any queries, please contact us using the details below.

Sanger people

Photo of Dr Matt Berriman

Dr Matt Berriman

Former Senior Group Leader

Photo of Dr María A Duque-Correa

Dr María A Duque-Correa

Marie Sklowdoska-Curie / NC3Rs Fellow

Photo of Nancy Holroyd

Nancy Holroyd

Samples and Partner Relationship Manager

External partners and funders


Matt Berriman

Matt leads the parasite genomics group who study the parasites that cause malaria and neglected tropical diseases. He uses large-scale comparative and functional genomics approaches to discover and study genes associated with major biological traits of parasites or with potential for exploitation as targets for intervention.


María A Duque-Correa

Maria studies the interaction between the human host gut epithelia and whipworms (Trichuris sp.). She is seeking to more fully understand the initial stages of the epithelia infection by the larvae, a crucial step that determines whether the worms are expelled or remain in the gut causing chronic disease. In the long term, this knowledge will help to develop vaccines and discover drugs to fight whipworm infections.


Francesca Gale

Fran is the Education Officer for Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement team. She runs the education activities, hosting educational visits on campus, developing teaching resources and providing genomics CPD (continuing professional development) sessions for teachers both on and off campus.


Nancy Holroyd

Nancy coordinates the helminth genome projects in Matt Berriman's Parasite Genomics group. Projects include producing de novo reference helminth genomes, the 50 Helminth Genomes Initiative and functional genomics studies.


Kevin Howe

Kevin is Wormbase Team Leader in the Kersey team: Non-vertebrate Genomics at EMBL-EBI.


Kenneth Skeldon

Ken is head of the Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement team.



The European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) is part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL, and is located on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton near Cambridge (UK). The EBI grew out of EMBL's pioneering work in providing public biological databases to the research community. It hosts some of the world's most important collections of biological data, including DNA sequences (ENA), protein sequences (UniProt), animal genomes (Ensembl), 3D structures (the Protein Databank in Europe), data from gene expression experiments (ArrayExpress), protein-protein interactions (IntAct) and pathway information (Reactome). The EBI hosts several research groups and its scientists continually develop new tools for the biocomputing community. EMBL-EBI is coordinating ELIXIR (, a pan-European research infrastructure for biological information.


Institute of Resesearch in Schools (IRIS)

IRIS is a charitable trust supporting young people and teachers to develop authentic research in schools. It gives students access to the world of real, cutting edge science by bringing university and industrial experts and equipment into school laboratories. When sixth form students take part in research, greater numbers go on to study science at university and take up careers in science and engineering. By working with teachers to develop their research interests, IRIS also helps to boost their own career development.


Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement

Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement enables sharing and discussion of the pioneering science that takes place on the Campus through a range of training, activities, resources, and projects. The team works with collaborators in research, education and cultural organisations to share ideas with diverse audiences and foster a community of engaged researchers. Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement is part of Connecting Science.


Wellcome Genome Campus Connecting Science

Wellcome Genome Campus Connecting Science’s mission is to enable everyone to explore genomic science and its impact on research, health and society. Genomics is revolutionising health research, but is also a deeply personal science, relevant to us all. We connect researchers, health professionals and the wider public, creating opportunities and spaces to explore genomic science and its impact on people. Connecting Science inspires new thinking, sparks conversation and supports learning by drawing on the ground-breaking research taking place on the Wellcome Genome Campus.


Wellcome Genome Campus

The Wellcome Genome Campus is home to some of the world's foremost Institutes and organisations in genomics and computational biology, committed to delivering life-changing science with the reach, scale and imagination to solve some of humanity's greatest challenges.



WormBase is an international consortium of biologists and computer scientists dedicated to providing the research community with accurate, current, accessible information concerning the genetics, genomics and biology of C. elegans and related nematodes. Founded in 2000, the WormBase Consortium is led by Paul Sternberg of CalTech, Paul Kersey of the EBI, Matt Berriman of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and Lincoln Stein of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.


WormBase Consortium

WormBase ParaSite is a collaboration between the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory - European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). It uses Ensembl technology to store and provide access to genomic data, but is also closely integrated with and complementary to the main WormBase resource. WormBase ParaSite is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

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