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University announces genomics partnership
The University of Birmingham and BGI, a leading Chinese genomics organization, have announced a major joint initiative into environmental and human health research
The University of Birmingham and BGI, a leading Chinese genomics organization, have announced a major joint initiative into environmental and human health research.
The new venture, revealed on 31st July, aims to improve our understanding of microbial communities within the human body, and has the potential to replace traditional diagnostic bacteriology by studying how these communities alter during times of disease. Included in the plans is the installation of a world-class research and training centre on the University campus that will combine numerous state-of-the-art approaches in molecular biology to study areas such as organism responses to environmental change, disease susceptibility and treatment of disease.
Yingrui Li, Vice-President of BGI, has said, 'We appreciate this great opportunity to collaborate with scientists at the University of Birmingham. Combining two organisations’ world leading expertise and extensive research experience in these fields, I believe we could make more scientific breakthroughs for benefiting human life in the near future.'
“‘We appreciate this great opportunity to collaborate with scientists at the University of Birmingham.’
The initiative is an expansion of the University’s recent £2 million research investment into the link between genes and metabolite functions, and the fate of natural populations coping with environmental challenges. The researchers hope the findings will provide 'an early warning system' to better protect human and environmental health from challenges such as chemical pollution and climatic change.
The initiative will also include a made-for-purpose site in Birmingham for scaling-up research activities, PhD level training opportunities for BGI employees, as well as student exchanges between Birmingham and the company's headquarters in Shenzhen, China. The venture will also provide tools and additional skill sets to integrate genomics into mainstream medicines such as cancer treatment.
Directors of Research for the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and for the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, Professors Jon Frampton and Kevin Chipman, commented that this integrative initiative will have a transformational impact on many areas of biological and biomedical research at the University.
'BGI’s presence at a UK institution of higher learning will reinforce how life-science education and basic research can improve human, environmental and economic wellbeing,' said Professor Adam Tickell, the University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Transfer. 'We also expect innovations from the partnership’s activities that will translate into more collaborations, including with industry, to create new environmental and healthcare start-up companies and employment for our graduates.'