The University of Liverpool has been awarded £2.2 million to establish a high-throughput genomic analysis hub for the North of England.
The funding – comprising £2 million from the Medical Research Council (MRC) – is part of a £7 million initiative by the MRC to boost the UK research community’s access to cutting-edge equipment for DNA sequencing with the establishment of high-throughput hubs in Scotland, the North of England and the East of England. The three hubs will receive funding for high-throughput sequencing machines which will be made available to all academics in the UK.
Led by the University of Liverpool, the North of England hub will consolidate the expertise of four partner universities – Manchester, Sheffield, Lancaster and Liverpool – to accelerate the study of genetics in the UK and meet the challenges of research in tumour sequencing, genetic susceptibility and personalised medicine. It will be supported by the Clatterbridge Cancer Research Trust.
The University already hosts the Advanced Genomics Facility which is a leading facility for pathogen sequencing, with client researchers from major companies and research institutions in the US, Germany, Sweden and Ireland. The hub will expand the capacity of this facility to make expertise and technology widely available to researchers and clinicians throughout the North of England.
Professor Neil Hall, from the School of Biological Sciences and Principal Investigator of the North of England Hub, said: “There is a pressing need to understand the basis of genetic variation and to use it to define the most appropriate treatment for each patient with a particular condition. This ‘personalised medicine’ will require establishing the DNA sequence of particular genes in those patients. Such research will benefit greatly from the new hub in the North of England by allowing much more productive sequencing technologies to be made available across the research community.”
John Jeans, MRC Chief Operating Officer, said: “This investment is key to retaining and enhancing the UK’s competitiveness. It makes plain the MRC’s commitment to supporting high quality basic research and exemplifies the responsiveness of MRC strategic investment to the needs of the research community.” “Inviting regional applications has generated innovative partnerships between academic institutions, as well as engagement with industry, the NHS and Regional Genetics Services. This initiative will engender innovative ways of working and enable new and exciting discoveries. We hope the hubs will allow scientists to ask increasingly precise questions about diseases, and gather answers that were undreamt of only a decade ago.”
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