Sanger Institute steps up commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Science

The Institute has joined a new coalition to remove biases in all aspects of life science research, including staff, experiment design, research subjects and study goals

The Wellcome Sanger Institute is founded on the pioneering science of its researchers, scientific and support staff who draw on their wide range of experiences and knowledge to develop innovative experiments and techniques. By drawing on the talents of people from around the globe, the Institute produces world-leading science and shares its discoveries for the benefit of the medical and scientific community worldwide.

To promote greater equality, diversity and inclusion within the organisation and its science, the Sanger Institute is delighted to have joined the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Science (EDIS) network. The EDIS network is seeking to create a powerful, connected community of organisations that will drive forward evidence-based policies to produce lasting change to the makeup of research teams, scientific focus and funding priorities. Its work will also promote greater diversity and inclusion in volunteer cohorts to ensure that life-changing medical and scientific research benefits everyone.

“The Sanger Institute’s scientific excellence comes from our people. Our diverse, interdisciplinary community, encompasses a broad range of global perspectives, expertise and experiences which enables us to pioneer new research. We value all our members and the talents they bring and believe that great science cannot be done without tapping into this diverse pool. Joining the EDIS strengthens our commitment to creating a working environment where difference is valued and welcomed and everyone can reach their full potential.”

Professor Sir Mike Stratton Director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute

Building on its ongoing work with Athena SWAN to address equality imbalances, the Institute is seeking to further address the wider issues of equality and diversity that can affect both the makeup of its scientific staff and the ability of its scientific samples to represent a diversity of ethnicities and gender.

By joining EDIS, the Sanger Institute will provide financial support, share best practice and help build the evidence base needed to inform strategies that will produce positive and sustainable change. The long-term goal of the coalition is to change the approach and design of science across academic research, funders and the commercial research sector to deliver more inclusive working approaches and experimental outcomes.

“Science works at its best when there is a collective of ideas and views are challenged by new thinking and approaches. At the Sanger Institute, we are delighted to be a member of EDIS and build on our commitment to ensuring Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is embedded into all facets of the organisation, from the science that we do, to supporting our workforce. We also look forward to helping to develop best practices for inclusion and equality both for our Institute and the wider scientific community.”

Dr Saher Ahmed Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the Sanger Institute

Analysis has shown that life science experiments have sometimes been designed in a way that may mean that the results cannot benefit the whole population. For example, 80 per cent of individuals studied in genome wide association studies are of Western European descent, while biomedical animal-based studies may have a large bias to male populations. However, changes to experimental design can help to address these imbalances and open up fresh perspectives and approaches.

For this reason, in 2019, an EDIS symposium will share best practices in research and experimental design, to address the sex of cells and animals used in research, the ethnicity and ancestry of participants in genome sequencing projects and the diversity of participants in clinical trials.

More information

Selected websites

  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Science

  • Wellcome Sanger Institute

    The Wellcome Sanger Institute is one of the world’s leading genome centres.

    Through its ability to conduct research at scale, it is able to engage in bold and long-term exploratory projects that are designed to influence and empower medical science globally. Institute research findings, generated through its own research programmes and through its leading role in international consortia, are being used to develop new diagnostics and treatments for human disease.

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  • Wellcome

    Wellcome exists to improve health by helping great ideas to thrive.

    We support researchers, we take on big health challenges, we campaign for better science, and we help everyone get involved with science and health research.

    We are a politically and financially independent foundation.