UK Prime Minister Opens New Sequencing Centre

Today (21st November) Genomics England, Illumina, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute hosted the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, at the opening of the Bridget Ogilvie Building on the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridge. This is where DNA sequencing for the 100,000 Genomes Project takes place.

Mike Stratton, Sir John Chisholm, Theresa May, David Bentley, Heidi Allen MP

L-R: Mike Stratton, Sir John Chisholm, Theresa May, David Bentley, Heidi Allen MP. Photo Credit – Sanger Institute, Genome Research Limited.

It is also the site where the UK’s contribution to the original Human Genome Project took place over 15 years ago. The campus is now home to some of the world’s foremost institutes and organisations in genomics. There is now have a real opportunity to turn discoveries about genomics into healthcare benefits for NHS patients. The 100,000 Genomes Project is currently the largest whole genome sequencing initiative of its kind in the world. It aims to harness the potential of whole genome sequencing within routine NHS care.

People currently taking part in the Project are NHS patients with rare diseases and their families, as well as patients with certain common cancers. Those who take part are set to benefit through better diagnoses and personalised treatments.

Almost 15,000 whole genomes have now been sequenced in the 100,000 Genomes Project. There are 13 NHS Genomic Medicine Centres across England who are continuing to recruit patients. Biotech company Illumina are undertaking the genome sequencing. Genomics England, together with clinical interpretation partners are interpreting those sequences to return results to patients and clinicians.

Mike Stratton and Theresa May. Photo Credit – Sanger Institute, Genome Research Limited.

Mike Stratton and Theresa May.
Photo Credit – Sanger Institute, Genome Research Limited.

As part of the opening, Sir John Chisholm, Executive Chair of Genomics England was introduced to the Prime Minster along with Dr Dame Bridget Margaret Ogilvie and David Bentley, Vice President and Chief Scientist of Illumina. They then showed her the work going on in the sequencing centre along with Chief Scientist at Genomics England Professor Mark Caulfield and Chief Scientific Officer for NHS England, Professor Sue Hill.

Sir John Chisholm, Executive Chairman of Genomics England said;

The UK is recognised across the world for being the first nation to introduce whole genome sequencing at scale in routine care environments. The Ogilvie facility is central to that achievement and opens the way to the virtuous circle of treating patients with genomic medicine leading to knowledge creation leading to advanced therapies leading to superior health outcomes.

Professor Mark Caulfield, Chief Scientist for Genomics England said;

NHS patients will be the first to benefit from discoveries made from this project.  The 100,000 Genomes Project Genome Sequencing Centre has already enabled us to feedback results to participants with rare diseases who had not achieved a diagnosis through routine healthcare

UK Prime Minister Rt Hon Theresa May, said;

It is an honour to open these buildings as they truly represent cutting edge British science and business in the modern era. What I’ve seen on the Wellcome Genome Campus is an excellent example of research from across the UK and around the world coming together with commerce to deliver benefits for everybody including patients in the NHS. We want the UK to be the ‘go to’ place for scientists, innovators, businesses and investors. This really is a very good example of that.

Professor Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer for NHS England said;

This collaborative partnership working with the latest sequencing and interpretation technologies will provide improved  diagnosis and treatment options for patients; and support research and further learning into how we understand and treat disease.

NHS England is proud to support clinicians in our 13 NHS Genomic Medicine Centres in harnessing this technology for the benefits of their patients, particularly those who suffer from cancer and rare diseases.  The 100,000 Genomes Project is putting the NHS at the forefront of genomic medicine internationally, and will form a platform for the wider uptake of personalised medicine approaches in years to come.

Researcher working at an illumina X10 sequencing machine, Ogilive Bulding, Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge.

Scientist working at an Illumina sequencing machine, Ogilvie building, Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge.

Professor Sir Mike Stratton, director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and chief executive of the Wellcome Genome Campus, said:

Genomes and biodata are an important part of all our futures. The Campus is home to research institutes, spin-out and start-up companies, academic-industry partnerships and Genomics England; all dedicated to driving and leading pioneering research and innovation and discourse in the sphere of genomes and biodata.

The new buildings mark the next major step in the progression of our vision for this Campus as a global hub for genomics and biodata. We have an ambition to translate and commercialise research findings, as well as inform and enable the NHS to integrate genomics into clinical care.

David Bentley, DPhil FMedSci, Vice President and Chief Scientist, Illumina Inc. said;

It was an enormous pleasure to host the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, and demonstrate the importance of industrial partnership for patient outcomes and sustained change.

With the building of our new headquarters for Europe, Middle East, and Africa at Granta Park, Cambridge, Illumina’s inward investment to the UK is set to continue along with our projects to support the NHS, and we have every confidence in the country’s unique position to be a leader in genomics in the forthcoming revolution in personalised medicine.

More information

About the 100,000 Genomes Project

Video introduction to the 100,000 Genomes Project.

Understanding Genomics

Find out about DNA, sequencing and genomics.

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