Prime Minister praises 'outstanding contribution'
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute was heralded today by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, for its work in decoding the human genome sequence - The Book of Life.
In preparation for his speech on Friday 3 November, the Prime Minister looked at a number of schemes which are offering excellence and best practice across the scientific field. He identified the Sanger Institute's work as part of the international Human Genome Project as a leading example.
The Human Genome Project began in 1990 as an ambitious 15-year programme that would provide the insights into the working of the human body that are critical to understanding and treating human disease. The Project was undertaken as an international collaboration that reached its goals in 2003, ahead of time and under budget.
Working as part of an international consortium comprising laboratories from six countries, the Sanger Institute made the largest single contribution to the human genome, sequencing one-third of its complex structure. To ensure that this sequence information would have the greatest impact on medical research leading to rapid advances in healthcare, the Wellcome Trust and its international funding partners ensured the genome sequence was made available immediately online through public databases housed in Europe, Japan and the USA. Today, looking up the human genome sequence is trivial and the ability to do this has changed the way that we do medical research.
"With the support of the Wellcome Trust and our international partners, the sequence of the human genome has been made available to all, and is now a fundamental part of medical research. The research results and resources we produce at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute are used by researchers from around the world."
"The passion that produced the human genome sequence remains as strong today in our work to help bring new medical benefit and to speed developments from the foundation laid by the Human Genome Project."
Professor Allan Bradley, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, near Cambridge, has played a vital role in helping us to understand the most basic information about ourselves. Established in 1992 as an expert centre for genomics and bioinformatics research, the Institute quickly began the quest to further our knowledge of genomes.
The seminal achievements of the Human Genome Project have transformed biomedicine. Our genome sequence will underpin research on human biology and disease in this century and beyond.
"The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute joined with colleagues worldwide to read out the code from which human beings are constructed. We realised a dream, and we made sure that the information is freely available - to maximise its benefit to humanity."
Sir John Sulston, Founding Director of the Sanger Institute
The freely available information is being used by thousands of researchers all over the world and is leading to major advances in the understanding of the genetic origin of disease, such as cancer, diabetes and infection.
Like all good research, the Human Genome Project acts as a springboard for new discoveries and inventions.