New world-class genomics laboratory set to further UK’s global genomics leadership and speed up drug discovery

Photo Permission: Copyright Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

A new, world-class, functional genomics laboratory is set to further the UK’s global genomics leadership and accelerate the discovery of new medicines and diagnostics.

The laboratory will be a centre of excellence and national resource that combines the strengths and expertise of academia and industry.

The functional genomics laboratory has been established through a partnership between the Medical Research Council (MRC), AstraZeneca and Milner Therapeutics Institute (MTI), University of Cambridge.

The state-of-the-art facility, which is expected to become operational in early 2024, will be located within the MTI on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

It will provide researchers from across the UK with access to large-scale biological and technological tools and house an advanced automated arrayed-CRISPR screening platform.

It is hoped that, through the use of tools, such as CRISPR gene editing, scientists will discover new insights into the relationship between genes, genetic variation and disease.

This may provide new opportunities to develop new therapies and diagnostics for chronic diseases including cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic disease.

The laboratory will become part of the UK’s Human Functional Genomics Initiative. This is a key commitment in the Life Sciences Vision to support world class research and innovation in functional genomics.

It will also contribute to the UK’s ambition of having the most advanced genomic healthcare system in the world.

Dr Jonathan Pearce, Director of Strategy and Planning, MRC, said:

We are working across UK Research and Innovation to improve health, ageing and wellbeing.

Our investment in this new laboratory builds on the UK’s global leadership in genomics.

Our support will enable the laboratory’s launch and provide access for researchers from across the UK.

Through this investment, and the wider Human Functional Genomics Initiative, we will enhance the national ecosystem needed to improve our understanding of how genetic variance impacts health and disease.

Professor Tony Kouzarides, Director of MTI, said:

The best science is founded on collaboration, and I am delighted that the Milner Therapeutics Institute is partnering with the MRC and AstraZeneca to launch this unique functional genomics laboratory.

This will enable sharing of expertise and resources to deliver new diagnostics and treatments for people with chronic diseases.

Professor Andy Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations at the University of Cambridge, said:

This new collaboration with AstraZeneca and MRC is a fantastic example of industry and academia working together to drive forward science that will have a real impact on people’s health in the UK and around the world.

Sharon Barr, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, said:

Collaboration is crucial to achieving our ambition of transforming healthcare and delivering life-changing medicines for patients, and innovative partnership such as this one, allow us to share resources and expertise to advance science.

This new laboratory created as part of the Human Functional Genomics Initiative, will be world-leading and will play a central role in shaping future functional genomics work across the UK and beyond.

Source: UK Research and Innovation.

Launched in April 2018, UKRI is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). They bring together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England, which is responsible for supporting research and knowledge exchange at higher education institutions in England, and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. For more details go to:


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