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Scottish genetics institute receives £60 million funding boost

3 September 2012
Appeared in BioNews 671

The Medical Research Council (MRC) has awarded £60 million to the MRC Human Genetics Unit and the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) at the University of Edinburgh, with the aim of advancing research into human genetic disorders. It is hoped that the funding, to be spread over the course of the next five years, will facilitate the translation of research into the human genome into tests and therapies for inherited diseases.

'The challenge we face is to work out how human genes work together to build a human', said Professor Nick Hastie, Director of the MRC Human Genetics Unit and the MRC IGMM at the University of Edinburgh. 'We also want to find out how subtle DNA differences help shape human diversity and influence susceptibility to a wide range of common diseases'.

The MRC IGMM became one of Europe's largest centres for human genetic research when last year the two-hundred-strong staff of the MRC Human Genetics Unit joined the University of Edinburgh. 'Great science is all about scientists coming together, interacting, and exchanging ideas. Combining forces will give us the impetus to turn the potential of the genetic revolution into reality, bringing new understanding and treatments of disease', said Professor Hastie.

The combined research efforts of the MRC IGMM and the MRC Human Genetics Unit, boosted by the recent funding, address a variety of illnesses which have, or are thought to have, a strong genetic component. These include cystic fibrosis, schizophrenia, cancers of the colon and breast, and eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa.

'The Human Genetics Unit and IGMM are a shining example of the kind of partnership-working needed to address the challenges of 21st century research', said Dr Wendy Ewart, Deputy Chief Executive of the MRC. 'The MRC is proud to continue its support for these establishments and their drive to transform discoveries about the human genome into benefits for human health'.
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