Wellcome Sanger Institute

Sanger Faculty to co-lead new Italian Genomics Research Centre

Nicole Soranzo will join the Human Technopole Institute to establish its dual programmes of Population and Medical Genomics and Functional Genomics studies

Professor Nicole Soranzo, a senior Group leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, is joining the Human Technopole Institute (Italy’s new research centre for life sciences) to co-found its Genomics Research Centre in partnership with Professor Piero Carninci. Professor Soranzo will lead the development of the Centre’s Population and Medical Genomics scientific research, while Professor Carninci will establish the Functional Genomics programme.

Both Professor Soranzo and Professor Carninci bring a wealth of world-leading genomics expertise to this new research venture. Nicole Soranzo is one of the world’s leading experts in human genetics and her research at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and University of Cambridge Clinical School uses large-scale genomic analysis to identify genetic variations associated with the onset of diseases. Piero Carninci is one of the main experts on the molecular functioning of DNA and RNA. He is currently Team Leader of the Laboratory for Transcriptome Technology and Deputy Director of the RIKEN Centre for Integrative Medical Sciences in Yokohama (Japan).

“We are very proud to have two internationally renowned scientists of the calibre of Nicole and Piero to head Human Technopole’s Genomics Research Centre. Our vision for the centre is based on a global approach which integrates the study of what happens at the molecular level in a cell’s DNA and RNA, to what can be detected at the macroscopic level, studying populations and their susceptibility to develop specific diseases. The two programmes of the Genomics Research Centre will work in close synergy trying to understand which genes are attributable to a specific individual characteristic, through genetics and human genomics, and by analysing how the latter work, thanks to functional genomics.”

Professor Iain Mattaj, Director of Human Technopole

“Nicole Soranzo and Piero Carninci are two internationally renowned scientists. They have both been working abroad for the past few decades, giving their contribution to fundamental discoveries in some of the world’s leading institutes and universities. We are honoured they have chosen to bring their talent to Italy and to Human Technopole. Today we take a significant step forward in building an internationally competitive research institute. Thanks to their efforts our Genomics Research Centre will develop studies and activities of fundamental value for the scientific and economic development of our country”.

Marco Simoni, Human Technopole President

Professor Soranzo will continue to lead her research team at the Sanger Institute, along with her national and international research collaborations while she works to establish the new centre. Once the centre is fully operational Nicole and her team will then transfer to the Population and Medical Genomics Programme at Human Technopole and will focus on genomic studies aimed at improving our understanding of genetic diversity and disease susceptibility in the Italian population. This analysis will be useful to identify recurrent genetic characteristics in populations with a marked predisposition or natural protection to develop chronic-degenerative diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases and their intermediate forms such as hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidaemia, obesity and metabolic syndrome.

“I’m thrilled that, in partnership with Piero, I will contribute to building a new Genomics centre at the Human Technopole in Italy. This is a momentous time for biological and medical research: the opportunities to use large-scale genomic studies to deliver vital insights into health and disease at both national and global level are unprecedented. In collaboration with clinical and epidemiology investigators we will seek to advance understanding of rare and common diseases, and to and apply this understanding to the health needs of the Italian population.”

Professor Nicole Soranzo, co-Head of the Centre for Genomic Research at the Human Technopole, and Senior Group Leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and University of Cambridge Clinical School

Professor Soranzo joined the Sanger Institute in 2007, becoming a Career Development Fellow in 2009 and a member of Faculty in 2012. Throughout her time at the Institute, Nicole has explored how genetic factors interact with other non-genetic and so-called epigenetic factors in common, complex conditions such as cardiovascular, inflammatory and immune diseases. Her team have developed bioinformatics tools to derive, combine and analyse genome sequencing data, epigenetic profiling, gene expression and metabolomics both at the population and single- cell level. Through her involvement in national and international projects such as the UK10K, EU BLUEPRINT and EpiGeneSys her team has helped to generate rich open-access genomic datasets for the scientific community, including an expansive atlas of genetic associations with metabolites, whole-genome sequence and phenotype data for population cohorts.

“I am delighted for Nicole and her team and excited by the opportunities her new centre will provide to embed genomic analysis at the heart of diagnosis and treatment in European healthcare. Nicole’s appointment is well deserved; her imaginative and tireless approach to applying the power of large-scale genomic study to the biological processes underlying complex disease will continue to drive vital discoveries. Nicole’s passion for, and commitment to, nurturing scientists at all levels of their development bodes well for Italian genomic enquiry for years to come.”

Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute

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Selected websites

  • Human Technopole

    Human Technopole is Italy’s new institute for life science based at the heart of MIND (Milano Innovation District), the area that hosted Milan EXPO 2015. The campus will include 35,000 square meters of interdisciplinary laboratories spread across three existing buildings, including Palazzo Italia, and an entirely new building. Human Technopole’s mission is to improve human health and well-being, by: carrying out frontier research in the life sciences aimed at developing novel approaches in preventive and personalised medicine; setting up and operating scientific services and facilities to be made available to external users to respond to the needs of the scientific community; training the next generation of scientists; promoting innovation and progress through technology transfer. Once fully operational it will employ over 1.000 scientists from all over the world. https://www.humantechnopole.it/

  • Wellcome Sanger Institute

    The Wellcome Sanger Institute is a world leading genomics research centre. We undertake large-scale research that forms the foundations of knowledge in biology and medicine. We are open and collaborative; our data, results, tools and technologies are shared across the globe to advance science. Our ambition is vast – we take on projects that are not possible anywhere else. We use the power of genome sequencing to understand and harness the information in DNA. Funded by Wellcome, we have the freedom and support to push the boundaries of genomics. Our findings are used to improve health and to understand life on Earth. Find out more at www.sanger.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and on our Blog.