New public dialogue finds support for the use of whole genome sequencing in newborn screening – providing that the right safeguards and resources are in place

Father holding baby

A new national public dialogue commissioned by Genomics England, the UK National Screening Committee and UK Research and Innovation’s Sciencewise programme finds that members of the public are broadly supportive of the use of whole genome sequencing (WGS) in newborn screening. However, they expect proper consideration to be given to designing and planning any future use of this technology. This, they recommend, includes involving the public and ensuring appropriate resources, investment and safeguards are in place.

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Genomics England’s 8th Birthday: Augusto on being pioneers in bioinformatics

I feel privileged to have spent the last seven years at Genomics England. Looking back, there has been an immense amount of progress both by us at Genomics England and by the international genomics community. But progress always feels slow to come; we often joke that it sometimes felt like we were flying a plane while building the wings. Yet it flies.

When the 100,000 Genomes Project started in 2013, only a few hundred genomes and a few thousand exomes had been sequenced in the UK.

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Genomics England’s 8th Birthday: Chris on forging a path towards better healthcare for all

Eight years ago today, Genomics England was launched with a mission to ‘unlock the power of DNA’ through the 100,000 Genomes Project. For nearly a decade we’ve worked to make this a reality. Now we are expanding on what we’ve learned, to help shape the future of healthcare in the UK.

The 100,000 Genomes Project was the most ambitious of its kind anywhere in the world. It combined genomic sequence data with medical records to create a ground-breaking research resource that developed researchers’ knowledge about genomics and has been responsible for driving real-world clinical results.

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Professor Sir Mark Caulfield departs Genomics England

Professor Sir Mark Caulfield will be leaving his role as Chief Scientist at Genomics England at the end of July 2021 to take up the position of Chief Executive at Barts Life Sciences. Although we are sad to see him leave, we hope to continue collaborating with him to advance genomic medicine and are excited to see what he can achieve in his new role.

Mark departs with our gratitude and best wishes,

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Public dialogue on whole genome sequencing for newborn screening

Launch of a public dialogue on using WGS for newborn screening

Register for an online event on 8 July to find out about a nationwide public dialogue on the implications of using whole genome sequencing for newborn screening.

One hundred and thirty members of the public from around the UK have taken part in a dialogue about the implications for the NHS and society of using whole genome sequencing for newborn screening.

The dialogue was commissioned by Genomics England and the UK National Screening Committee,

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Undiagnosed Children’s Day 2021: Baroness Nicola Blackwood shares her own diagnostic odyssey

I was an undiagnosed child once. I know what it feels like to spend years getting really ill but no one really knowing what was wrong. On average in the UK it takes 4-7 years to diagnose a rare disease – for many rare disease patients it is much longer.

I went through the ups and downs (mainly downs) of the diagnostic odyssey – referral to referral, specialist to specialist. I knew the frustration at not receiving a proper answer and knew the pain of not receiving proper treatment.

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New algorithm flags genetic weaknesses in cancer tumours

A study funded by Cancer Research UK and published today in the journal Nature Cancer, has found a new way to identify tumours which could be sensitive to particular cancer therapies and has been developed using data from NHS cancer patients in the 100,000 Genomes Project. The new algorithm, called MMRDetect, allows researchers to see which tumour cells have weaknesses in their ability to repair themselves and means cancer patients can receive personalised treatments.

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Professor Sir Mark Caulfield: Placing participants at the heart of genomics in the UK

I look back in awe over these past 5 years and the extraordinary journey the Participant Panel and Genomics England have taken together, through both the 100,000 Genomes Project, and the establishment of the NHS Genomics Medicine Service. Awe, because I hold the enduring memory of the inspiring contribution each of the Panel have selflessly made on behalf of your fellow participants, to ensure the success of the programme. The Participant Panel have tirelessly kept the interests of the wider participants in the forefront of our minds at Genomics England and NHS England. 

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New PHG Foundation report on Sano Genetics patient engagement platform

Today the PHG Foundation has published its report, commissioned by Genomics England, examining the legal and ethical implications of an online platform for patient engagement in precision medicine research being developed by Sano Genetics.

In May 2020, Genomics England announced that it was collaborating with precision medicine research start-up Sano Genetics and data management firm Zetta Genomics to develop a platform that would allow rare disease patients and their caregivers to add vital additional information about their health and wellbeing to research databases.

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Vivienne Parry celebrates our Participant Panel’s achievements on their 5th anniversary

When Genomics England began back in 2013, the very idea that we could sequence 100,000 genomes was an audacious one.  No-one had ever done it before.  And, if the technical challenge wasn’t enough, there was also an NHS transformation project to deliver, which would, if everything worked out, be the basis for a new NHS Genomic Medicine Service.   Finally, for good measure, there was the development of a major research facility, which could turn genomic information into new knowledge,

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A Shared Journey of Discovery – Jillian Hastings Ward reflects on the fifth anniversary of Genomics England’s Participant Panel

We’d love you to join the Participant Panel! Can you come to the first meeting, on Monday?

So began a personal adventure, better than I ever imagined, with a group of people who continue to inspire me on a weekly basis. From a genetics appointment in London, to addressing conference audiences in San Diego and Melbourne; from parenting a severely disabled child with an undiagnosed condition, to helping establish a global community of families like us.

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International Women’s Day 2021 blog: Baroness Nicola Blackwood celebrates women involved in the fight against COVID-19

Exactly three months ago, 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This landmark event, a major turning point in the battle against the virus, came less than a year after the first recorded coronavirus case in the UK. A remarkable feat of endeavour by science and healthcare.

Margaret’s story is the culmination of an unparalleled journey by the global health and scientific community, who have so admirably fought back against a disease about which we knew so little this time last year.

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International Women’s Day 2021 blog: Dr Christine Patch pays tribute to Dame Fiona Caldicott

On International Women’s Day, Dr Christine Patch, Clinical Lead for Genetic Counselling at Genomic England, talks about stepping into the role of Genomics England’s Caldicott Guardian, and pays tribute to the first National Data Guardian, Dame Fiona Caldicott.

The sad news of Dame Fiona Caldicott’s passing last month caused an outpouring of gratitude from around the health and social care sector. Dame Fiona’s vision was that everyone should be able to trust that their personal confidential data is protected and being used appropriately.

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New Non-Executive Directors join Genomics England Board

Genomics England is excited to announce the appointment of Andrew Eland, Annalisa Jenkins and Vikram Bajaj to the Board as Non-Executive Directors.

Andrew Eland, CEO and Founder of Diagonal Work

Andrew, a software engineer by trade, has spent time working with Google, DeepMind and, more recently, Diagonal Work. He originally joined Google in 2005, working predominantly on Google Maps, and was appointed as Engineering Director in 2010. He left four years later to take up another Engineering Director position,

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Rare Disease Day 2021 blog: West syndrome – a rare epilepsy as seen through the eyes of a father

My daughter was born prematurely and at around 8 months old, she seemed to regress in her development and started making strange jack-knife movements at certain times of the day. She was diagnosed at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge with a rare and severe form of epilepsy called West syndrome. West syndrome diagnosis is based around the child having very specific and irregular brainwaves, developmental regression and seizures. Luckily, our clinician was actively involved in a clinical trial for treating West syndrome.

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LifeArc provides £5 million funding to increase understanding of the role of genetic risk factors in patient response to COVID-19

Medical research charity, LifeArc, announces today that it is providing £5 million funding to support the work of the GenOMICC COVID-19 Study, led by the GenOMICC consortium in partnership with Genomics England. The study, launched in May 2020, is using genomics to investigate why some people are affected more severely by COVID-19, and increase our understanding about the disease.

GenOMICC is a global collaboration of doctors and scientists working together to understand and treat serious illnesses,

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International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Vivienne Parry celebrates geneticist Barbara McClintock

Thinking about Women in STEM this week has made me want to introduce Barbara McClintock to you. She brings together two parts of my life, my undergraduate years taking genetics and my time at Genomics England. She may not be very familiar to many of you, yet what she discovered underpins everything we do here.

She was the first and so far, only woman to have won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine unshared.

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Blog: Let’s talk about the ‘G’ word

In this blog, Chris Wigley, CEO of Genomics England, tells us in his own words why it is so important for us to talk to as many people as possible about genomics, and why we have launched our podcast, The G Word.

I’ve spent my career at the intersection of technology, ethics and human stories. Now, I lead the amazing team here at Genomics England. We’re trying to bring the benefits of genomic medicine to everyone,

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The G Word: Genomics England launches new podcast

This week, Genomics England has launched its first company podcast. ‘The G Word’ will be hosted by Chris Wigley, our CEO, who will talk to a wide variety of people about all things genomics, with the aim of making the topic more accessible and understandable to all.

He says:

Most people understand that our DNA is the blueprint that lies at the heart of our cells and bodies. Many people have done mail-order genetic tests to explore their heritage,

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