Open Targets

Sanger researcher wins prize from European Society for Human Genetics

Gosia Trynka awarded 2020 Leena Peltonen Prize for her outstanding research into human immune diseases

Dr Gosia Trynka, Group Leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, has been awarded the 2020 Leena Peltonen prize by the European Society for Human Genetics (ESHG). This prize is given every two years to an outstanding young researcher in the field of human genetics.

The prize honours the memory of Dr. Leena Peltonen, a world-renowned human geneticist from Finland. Head of Human Genetics at the Sanger Institute when she died in 2010, Dr Peltonen was a visionary geneticist, champion of population genetics and public health, who contributed greatly to the identification of disease genes for human diseases.

Dr Trynka gave the award lecture during the Opening Ceremony for the European Society of Human Genetics annual meeting on 6th June, held online this year. She has been leading the Immune Genomics Group at the Sanger Institute since 2014. This year she also took on an additional responsibility as the Experimental Science Director at Open Targets, a public/private partnership that uses genomics data to improve drug target identification and prioritisation.

Her group at the Sanger Institute combines immunology and genomic assays with statistical approaches to study how human genetic variation impacts the immune system and predisposes to the development of autoimmune diseases.

“As a Head of Human Genetics at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Leena Peltonen had recruited a cadre of young faculty. She was seen as a champion and an inspiration to the younger generation of scientists. As a junior faculty member whose independent research career was enabled by the Sanger environment that Leena has championed, I feel extremely honoured to be recognised with this prize.”

Dr Gosia Trynka, Group Leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Experimental Science Director at Open Targets

“I am delighted that Dr Gosia Trynka has been bestowed this important recognition for her contribution to the understanding of the genetic and molecular causes of devastating human immune diseases. Gosia is a hugely talented, original and courageous scientist, who continues to break new ground through her highly innovative statistical, experimental and translational approaches. A passionate educator and mentor, she has already established herself as a role model and champion for the next generation of human genetics scientists.”

Professor Nicole Soranzo, Senior Group Leader of the Human Complex Traits Group at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and a member of the award’s nominating committee

More information


Sanger Institute obituary of Dr Leena Peltonen:

European Society for Human Genetics –

Selected websites

  • 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 or follow us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and on our Blog.

  • About 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.

  • Open Targets

    Open Targets is a pioneering public-private collaboration that aims to transform drug discovery through the systematic identification and prioritisation of drug targets to improve the success rate for developing new medicines. The consortium is a unique, pre-competitive partnership between pharmaceutical companies and not-for-profit research institutes. The partners are GSK, Takeda, Bristol Myers Squibb, Sanofi, the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). Open Targets combines the skills, knowledge and technologies of its partner organisations, offering a critical mass of expertise that does not exist in any single institution. Large-scale genomic experiments and computational techniques developed in the public domain are blended with formal pharmaceutical R&D approaches to identify causal links between targets, pathways and diseases. This enables the partners to systematically identify drug targets, and prioritise them for further exploration. Find more at follow @targetvalidate