University of Edinburgh, BGI announce MOU

Companies to examine genomics collaboration

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EDINBURGH, Ireland—The University of Edinburgh and BGI, theworld's largest genomics organization, have announced the signing of amemorandum of understanding, the aim of which is to build on both institutions'areas of strength in the field of genomics. Genomics is gaining interest aspotentially being the next avenue of research that might be able to aid indeveloping personalized medical treatments as DNA sequencing facilities arefurther developed.
"The timing is perfect. This opportunity will keep Edinburghand Scotland at the very leading edge of all aspects of medical genomics, fromrare forms of inherited disease through to major causes of ill health over thelife course and in aging. It will be a crucial bridge between our world-leadingacademic research and the needs of the NHS," Prof. David Porteous, director ofthe Genetics Core at the Edinburgh Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facilityand of Systems Medicine at the MRC/University of Edinburgh Institute ofGenetics and Molecular Medicine, said in a press release.
The partnership will expand the amount of genomics researchin Edinburgh, including the analysis of heredity information encoded in DNA,research that could also have applications in assessing disease risk. Theagreement will examine how a collaboration with BGI could enhance researchbeing done at three genomics facilities in Edinburgh: GenePool GenomicsFacility in the School of Biological Sciences, ARK Genomics at the RoslinInstitute and the Genetics Core at the Wellcome Trust Clinical ResearchFacility and the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine.
"This is a fantastic opportunity," Prof. Mark Blaxter,director of the School of Biological Science's GenePool Facility, said in apress release. "Edinburgh is already a hotbed of expertise in genomics and DNAsequencing, and a partnership with BGI would allow us to expand our work intoclinical research and, ultimately, personalized genomics."
"Bioinformatics is a key part of the new science: the impactof genomics is limited by our ability to analyze the data, so the concept ofcombining our existing bioinformatics expertise with that of BGI is veryexciting," added Mick Watson, director of The Roslin Institute's ARK Genomicsfacility.
In keeping with its potential applications in assessingdisease risk, genomics also has potential in livestock applications, as itcould aid in breeding animal lines to have increased resistance to diseases inorder to ensure sustainability for an increasingly large global population.
"Livestock genetic improvement is a key part of our responseto the challenge of food security, and sequencing and informatics are crucialto future progress. This initiative will underpin Scotland's world-leadingresearch in animal sciences," Prof. David Hume, director of The RoslinInstitute, said in a press release.
BGI has extensive experience in genomics, with researchprojects in areas such as human genetics, animals and plants, microorganism andepigenetics, with a combination of research innovation, platform developmentand industrial application. The company seeks business relationships withresearch leaders on a global scale, and aims to promoting the advancement ofbiology research, molecular breeding, healthcare and related fields.
"We appreciate this great opportunity to bring our extensivegenomics experience in this collaboration," Ning Li, director of BGI Europe,said in a press release. "I believe we could make more scientific breakthroughsin human health, animal science and evolution as well as other innovativeresearch fields."
SOURCE: BGI press release

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