Sanger Institute - EBI single cell genomics centre

New centre to provide a whole-genome view of variation and expression at a single-cell level

Sanger Institute - EBI single cell genomics centre

singlecellcentre.jpgThierry Voet
Single cell genomics

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) are launching the Single Cell Genomics Centre (SCGC), which seeks to answer key biological questions by exploring cellular genetics at the highest resolution possible. The centre will focus on the exploration of cell function in normal development and immune function as well as cancer.

The six founding members are John Marioni, Chris Ponting, Wolf Reik, Harold Swerdlow, Sarah Teichmann, and Thierry Voet.

Single-cell genomics enables researchers to identify differences between individual cells within developing tissues. Identifying and understanding differences between cell types and subpopulations is crucial to discovering how cancer spreads or specialized cells - such as neurons - can be grown for use in regenerative medicine.

"The Single Cell Genomics Centre will play a vital role in research at the Sanger Institute, and will stimulate the bioinformatics research needed for interpreting this exciting new type of data. We are looking to establish the centre as a focal point for collaboration to accelerate the science, applications, methods and discoveries in single-cell genomics research."

Dr Sarah Teichmann, who is a faculty member at both the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and EMBL-EBI

By providing a view of gene variation and gene expression across the entire genome at a single-cell level, the SCGC will drive molecular biology forward.

"We want to reveal as well as understand the fundamental, sometimes dramatic differences between the genomes of individual cells as they arise within an organism: from the developing embryo to brain networks and other normal and diseased tissues, e.g., a developing cancer. We are convinced that characterizing single cells and possessing the means to do so, will not just provide a key to novel biological discoveries, but also a path to developing cutting-edge medical applications."

Dr Thierry Voet, Associate Faculty at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and assistant professor at Belgium's KU Leuven

Genomic investigation at the single-cell level is at the frontier of molecular biology, and while some protocols have been developed there are still significant technical and computational challenges to resolve before these approaches can be used in a robust and routine manner. The SCGC will develop new experimental and computational methods in DNA sequencing, epigenomic DNA sequencing and RNA sequencing. This will provide valuable tools for a wide range of research applications.

"The development of new technologies that can detect differences between individual cells represents an amazing new set of scientific opportunities that will provide fundamental insights into the normal development and normal functioning of the human body and will ultimately generate understanding of how these go awry in a wide variety of diseases."

Professor Mike Stratton, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

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