Genome Campus appoints Director of Scientific Conferences and Engagement

New role is part of 10-year strategy to create a genomic knowledge hub on the Genome Campus

Genome Campus appoints Director of Scientific Conferences and Engagement

Dr Julian Rayner

The Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, which is home to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), has appointed a Director of Scientific Conferences and Engagement to further develop the campus as an internationally renowned centre for education and engagement in the area of genetics and genomics.

Current advances in genomic research, bioinformatics and technology present important opportunities and implications for human healthcare. As a world leader in this field, the Genome Campus is ideally placed to lead the way in communicating genomic and bioinformatics research, and their impact on health and disease to both specialists and the broader public. The long-term vision is to make the Genome Campus, which is based just south of Cambridge, the go-to destination, both physically and digitally, for understanding genomics and harnessing its power for society's benefit.

Dr Julian Rayner, senior group leader in the Malaria Programme at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, has been appointed to this new role. This will see him lead and build on the on-going work of the Sanger Institute's Public Engagement team and the Wellcome Trust Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences teams. He will also work closely with the teams providing the extensive training programme at the EBI.

With dedicated on-site training and conference facilities, the Wellcome Trust Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences programme currently brings over 3,000 international researchers and clinicians to the Genome Campus each year, with around 50 residential laboratory and computational courses, conferences, workshops and summer schools. The overseas programme provides training in Africa, South-East Asia and South/Central America in molecular techniques to aid research in and detection of infectious and non-infectious diseases. The Genome Campus also regularly hosts school groups and provides extension training for teachers. Dr Rayner's objective is to broaden these engagement and education programmes by reaching new audiences at all levels, from school students to clinicians, and continuing the efforts to expand training to other sites around the globe.

"I'm excited to be working with the talented engagement and education teams we have here on campus; this project and my role will provide them with the opportunity to reach more people in new and innovative ways," said Dr Rayner. "The Wellcome Trust Conference Centre is also currently undergoing an exciting and ambitious refurbishment that will see the installation of a glass roof, increasing space available for public exhibitions and will enable us to engage with new audiences."

Dr Julian Rayner, senior group leader in the Malaria Programme at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and first Director of Scientific Conferences and Engagement

Dr Rayner is an active researcher in the Malaria Programme, where he explores the molecular mechanisms that allow malaria parasites to recognise and invade human red blood cells in order to identify new vaccine targets. Dr Rayner will continue to be an active researcher in the Malaria Programme, but will now devote half of his time to his new role. While his new role is a significant new step, Dr Rayner has always devoted considerable time to engagement and outreach activities. This includes training researchers; giving talks to schools, teachers and community groups; taking part in the Sanger Institute's Beyond the Genome exhibit at the Royal Society's Summer Exhibition and working with visiting artists.

"I believe that communicating the process and outcomes of science is the fundamental responsibility of all researchers, but I have also found it to be a deeply enjoyable process that has enriched my own career. This new initiative will allow even more scientists to participate in such vital and exciting activities."

Dr Julian Rayner

"Julian's clear scientific vision, strategic thinking and engaging and enthusiastic outlook will drive forward our education and engagement programmes. This will allow the Genome Campus to inform societal and scientific understanding of genomes."

Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Sanger Institute

"The Sanger Institute and the EBI's shared goal is to engage and educate the wider public about genomics, bioinformatics and the impact it will have on healthcare. This joint initiative will see the Genome Campus become the destination for anyone fascinated by the potential of genomic research."

Professor Janet Thornton, Director of the EBI

"My personal goal is to ensure that this stunning and unique campus is seen as the place where everyone, not only scientists, can come to learn about the impact genomics will make on our lives."

Dr Julian Rayner

Notes to Editors
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