Wellcome Trust Proposal To Extend Genome Campus

The proposal will extend the leading genome centre to include a post-genomic research facility for academic and industry scientists.

Wellcome Trust Proposal To Extend Genome Campus

On 12 April, the Wellcome Trust submitted an outline planning application to South Cambridgeshire District Council to build an extension at its Wellcome Trust Genome Campus at Hinxton. The proposal will extend the leading genome centre to include a post-genomic research facility for academic and industry scientists.

The proposed 27,000 sqm development will build on the work conducted on the existing Genome Campus by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, which is renowned worldwide for its pivotal role in the Human Genome Project - an international venture that sequenced the genes in the human body.

The proposed extension will provide cutting-edge academic research facilities for the Sanger Institute as it progresses from sequencing the human genome to discovering what genes do. It will also include an Innovation Centre for genomics start-up companies and space for grow-on companies seeking to expand.

"Throughout the 1990s the Sanger Institute kept the UK at the forefront of world science through our role in the Human Genome Project. We want to maintain this leadership position and at the same time ensure the translation of good science into good health. To do this, we need to create opportunities for collaboration with industry. Our vision is to create a vibrant campus which co-locates business and academia and propels new research and development."

Dr Mike Dexter, Director of the Wellcome Trust

"There is an enormous amount of information encoded in our DNA but before we can jump to developing healthcare products we have to understand how our genes function. This requires additional resources and expertise and these will inevitably require more space."

Dr Allan Bradley, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

"An extended campus will enable us to expand our research portfolio and work alongside industry to develop new medical advances. This will not only maintain our position as a world leader in genomics research, but enable us to make a real contribution to global health."

If approved by South Cambridgeshire District Council, construction of the extension will be phased over five years. The first stage will be the academic building and ancillary facilities, followed by the Innovation Centre, and the Grow-on space.

Notes to Editors
  1. The 27,000 sqm development includes 3,000 sqm for Ancillary space.
  2. The proposed campus extension has three main components:
    • Academic buildings (10,000 sqm) for new laboratories, a biological computing centre (data centre) and a research support facility.
    • Ancillary space (3,000 sqm) for site services, conference rooms and recreation.
    • Commercial accommodation, comprising an Innovation Centre for start-up businesses (5,000 sqm) and facilities for 'Grow-ons' (9,000 sqm), new businesses looking to expand.
  3. Once companies located on the extended site reach maturity and are able to develop products, they will move off site to make space for new start-ups and growing companies. There will be no manufacturing on site.
  4. A full copy of the planning application can be inspected at the offices of South Cambridgeshire District Council. Contact Gareth Jones or Sue King on 01223 443000.
  5. The Wellcome Trust's originally submitted a planning application in 1997 for a 40,000 sqm extension to its Genome Campus. This was considered at a public inquiry in 1999 and although refused permission by the then Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions, his decision acknowledged that the extension of the Campus was in the national interest and a smaller extension would have been approved. Today's proposal reflects the scale of development indicated by the Secretary of State.
  6. In October 2001, the Wellcome Trust awarded a further £300 million to the Sanger Institute for Dr Allan Bradley and his team to launch new research programmes to take the Institute into the post-genomic era. Core projects over the next five years include:
    • The world's largest cancer genome study (the Cancer Genome Project), which is searching for genetic mutations that cause the most common cancers, including breast, lung, colorectal, ovary and prostate.
    • Uncovering the basis of disorders that have multiple genetic contributions, such as asthma and diabetes. This will be achieved using a complete finished human genome sequence and a high-density map of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) - small single letter differences in the genome alphabet that make us all individual. Understanding SNPs will help scientists to explain why certain people are more susceptible to diseases than others and why some respond to certain drugs whilst others do not.
    • A major programme of research in mouse genetics will identify the function of many thousands of new genes which have been decoded by the Human Genome Project. These studies will identify specific genes involved in health and disease. Ultimately this knowledge will enable new therapies to be developed.
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