Wellcome Sanger Institute

MRC Centre for Genomics and Global Health (CGGH)

From 2008 until 2021, this hub for collaboration created networks and infrastructure that turned large-scale genomic data into effective tools to combat infectious diseases endemic in the Global South.

Archive Page

This page is maintained as a historical record and is no longer being updated.

A central problem in infectious disease research is that pathogens are continuously evolving. To understand the genomic diversity underpinning diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, influenza, and dengue, the Medical Research Council (MRC) supported the creation of the CCGH in 2008. After 13 years of successful collaboration and many high-profile publications (like the largest catalogue of genetic variation in malaria-carrying mosquitoes) the centre was closed in 2021.

Through the CGGH, researchers from around the world collaborated to integrate genomic and population genetic data with clinical and epidemiological data. This work continues through projects like MalariaGEN, The WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network, the Plasmodium Diversity Network Africa, the Ethox Centre at Oxford University, and through the MRC Unit The Gambia.

Central to the ethos of the CGGH was collaboration with global partners to develop the necessary infrastructure – scientific, technical and institutional – to support the use of genomics as a tool in the fight against infectious diseases.

Results

Along with building significant knowledge and capacity with partners around the world, the CGGH published dozens of scientific articles tracing the evolution of humans, pathogens, and disease vectors like mosquitoes. 

Researchers at the CGGH also created data workflows and visualisation tools to better harness the data being collected. This includes the MalariaGEN P. falciparum Community Project web application and Panoptes, a software framework that can be rapidly deployed to create rich, interactive web applications for exploring genetic and genomic data.

Approach

The CGGH’s work was focused on three broad areas of research with related objectives:

  • Data science – Developing statistical and population genetic methods to understand genetic diversity and the evolution of pathogen and vector populations.
  • Networks – Learning about the global diversity of pathogen and vector populations through data-sharing networks.
  • Technology – Developing web-based tools and resources to gather and share genetic data.

Community

Collaboration was central to the CGGH, with equity, diversity, and inclusion at the heart of its operations. This was reflected not just in the geographic distribution of the team, but also in its approach to data sharing. It was crucial that data be made available to researchers around the world, while ensuring appropriate attribution to the people and communities who contributed to the data.

CGGH team members were located across a number of institutions in the UK, Africa, and Southeast Asia – primarily Oxford University, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and the MRC and Wellcome Trust overseas units. This core team acted as a hub, supporting the wider network of collaborators in more than 20 countries.

A group picture of researchers at Hinxton Hall, at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

Legacy

While the CGGH has been wound down as a project, the research networks, infrastructure, and datasets it created continue to be used by researchers and public health agencies around the world. 

MalariaGEN in particular builds on the CGGH’s legacy of open collaboration and data sharing for malaria genomics.

Contact

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Sanger people

Photo of Prof Chris Newbold

Prof Chris Newbold

Professor of Tropical Medicine and Honorary Faculty at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

Photo of Professor Gordon Dougan

Professor Gordon Dougan

Former Senior Group Leader

Photo of Julian Parkhill

Julian Parkhill

Former Head of Infection Genomics and Senior Group Leader

Photo of Dr Julian C Rayner

Dr Julian C Rayner

Honorary Faculty (formerly Senior Group Leader at the Sanger Institute) and Director of Wellcome Connecting Science

Photo of Dr Magnus Manske

Dr Magnus Manske

Senior Staff Scientist

Photo of Prof Martin Donnelly

Prof Martin Donnelly

Professor of Evolutionary Genetics and Honorary Faculty at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

Photo of Dr Matt Berriman

Dr Matt Berriman

Senior Group Leader

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