£13m state-of-the-art environmental research facility to launch

Liverpool is set to co-host a new state-of-the-art facility providing environmental researchers across the UK with access to innovative technologies to enable world-leading research.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) will provide £13million funding for the facility, which will be based at the Universities of Liverpool and Sheffield.

Launching on 1st October 2020, the NERC Environmental Omics Facility (NEOF) will be commissioned for five-years with an investment of £2million a year, plus transformational capital funding of £3million.

Environmental researchers in the UK will be able to access the full range of omics supporting technology, expertise and training. This includes genomics, bioinformatics, proteomics and metabolomics, based on cutting-edge technology tailored specifically to the needs of environmental studies.

The Liverpool site builds on the world-class omics facilities within the university’s Centre for Genomic Research, Centre for Proteomic Research and Centre for Metabolomic Research.

Professor Steve Paterson, NEOF Director at the University of Liverpool, said: “I am delighted to be able to support NERC science and the world-class community of environmental scientists in the UK.

“Applying omics techniques to environmental problems is very different to that for most of omics, which are applied just to one species, humans. However, we have a wealth of expertise ranging from bacterial communities in soil to insects to deep sea fish. This an exciting opportunity to use the latest omic technologies to tackle new questions in biodiversity, climate change and wildlife diseases.”

Dr Iain Williams, Director of Strategic Partnerships at NERC, said: “NEOF will be a centre of excellence that allows the UK to maintain and develop its world-leading position in environmental omics, and empower the next generation of environmental researchers with a full range of omic tools and the skills to address pressing environmental science challenges, including biodiversity, species interactions and threats to our wildlife.”

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “UK researchers are working tirelessly to advance our understanding of the most pressing environmental challenges we face – from combating climate change, reducing pollution and protecting our biodiversity.

“This funding will ensure our world-leading environmental researchers can access new state of the art equipment and harness innovative technologies to help protect our planet and work towards net zero by 2050.”

Professor Terry Burke, NEOF Director at the University of Sheffield, said: “Omics is transforming our ability to understand and manage our environment. We welcome this investment to enable us to make our expertise and equipment readily available to researchers from across the UK, and to enhance our ability to train those at the start of their careers.”