Earlham Institute awarded £31.4m to power data-intensive bioscience
The Earlham Institute has been awarded £31.4m from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UKRI, to deliver an ambitious programme of research, develop new technology, and deliver innovation and impact over the next five years.
This investment covers two new strategic programmes of research - Cellular Genomics and Decoding Biodiversity - and two National Bioscience Research Infrastructures (NBRIs) - Transformative Genomics and the Earlham Biofoundry.
It also includes core funding, helping to support Research e-Infrastructure, advanced scientific training, and operational costs that enable the Institute’s research to deliver maximum impact.
Funding for the Earlham Institute, which is based at the Norwich Research Park, is part of a wider investment from the BBSRC in life science research institutes and infrastructure totalling more than £376m between 2023 - 2028.
Professor Neil Hall, Earlham Institute Director, said: “This significant investment allows us to continue delivering world-leading research in genomics and data science.
“We’re embarking on an incredibly ambitious, highly-collaborative, and multidisciplinary programme of research we believe will be transformative for the field of life science - as well as benefiting global society in the long term.”
Innovative research and infrastructure
The Cellular Genomics research programme will explore the origins and impact of genomic variation in healthy cells, and how this affects the response to environmental stress. The Decoding Biodiversity programme will develop the tools and resources to turn genome collections and big datasets into new knowledge and discoveries.
In order to maximise the impact of these programmes, the Institute has assembled a range of academic and industry collaborators and partners, each adding value and sharing their expertise.
Partners on the Cellular Genomics programme include The Alan Turing Institute, UK Health Security Agency, Quadram Institute, and Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. Those on the Decoding Biodiversity programme include the Quadram Institute, IBERS, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, IBM Research, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
The Earlham Institute will also lead a strand of work in the Delivering Sustainable Wheat (DSW) programme, which seeks to develop the genomic resources to safeguard the future of this critical source of global calories. DSW is led by the John Innes Centre, with collaborators from across the UK. BBSRC has also provided partnership funding to support the delivery of the Institute’s strategic programmes.
The NBRIs are critical to these programmes, as well as supporting other research projects, and provide services to the UK bioscience community.
Transformative Genomics provides access to the latest technology platforms and analytical methods for DNA and gene expression analysis, while the Earlham Biofoundry offers both equipment and expertise in automation, large experiment design, and engineering biology approaches.
The investment will also allow the Institute to deliver against strategic priorities, such as:
- Developing science capabilities by opening opportunities for early career research fellows based at EI, as well as delivering a computational and data-science training programme;
- Enhancing the organisational culture through equality and diversity initiatives;
- Building connectivity through new industry partnerships, academic collaborations, and working with policy makers.
Sarah Cossey, the Institute’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Strategic funding, such as this award from BBSRC, is critical for our successful delivery of longer-term research programmes and the technology platforms that support them.
“Every individual has a role to play, from our operational staff to the research programme leaders. Together, our work can deliver policy and socioeconomic impact to address some of the biggest challenges facing humanity.”
The investment from BBSRC will support a national network of vibrant, dynamic, and diverse bioscience national capabilities with links across the research and innovation ecosystem.
As the UK’s major public funder of bioscience research and innovation, BBSRC is responsible for the long-term investment of substantial public funds in these strategically supported research institutes.
As well as providing leadership and expertise in important areas of research, the eight institutes also play a key role in driving the vision and core themes outlined in BBSRC’s Institute Strategy - capability, connectivity, and culture.
“All of the BBSRC-supported institutes are closely connected, with the ability to work together or share knowledge, expertise, and infrastructure across the whole of the UK,” said Professor Hall.
“We’re collectively committed to delivering world-class research, collaborating and coordinating our efforts, and building a culture where every person feels valued for the contribution they are making. Through that commitment, we deliver world-class science, innovation, and impact.”
Professor Melanie Welham, Executive Chair at BBSRC, said: “BBSRC’s strategically supported institutes are a vital component of the national and international bioscience research and innovation ecosystem. As experts in their fields, these world-class research institutes provide the UK with the capability and connectivity needed to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of the bioscience revolution."
Minister of State for Science at the new Dept of Science, Innovation and Technology, George Freeman MP, said: “The world is facing a number of major challenges from the climate emergency, food supply security, a growing risk of deadly disease pathogen pandemics, air and water pollution and the urgent need to harness new green energy.
“These challenges are complex and interconnected and will require a concerted effort from the scientific community to harness our knowledge of biological systems to address.
“This £376m investment for UK biosciences announced today will help build on the UK’s longstanding leadership in bioscience – from plant science, to gut biome and nutrition, new biofuels, disease resistant crops and tropical diseases to help attract and retain the best and brightest scientists from around the world, drive innovation and economic growth through the Bioeconomy and help the UKs Science Superpower mission to better harness science and technology for global good.”
Notes to editors.
For more information, please contact:
Greg Bowker, Head of Communications, Earlham Institute (EI)
- +44 (0)1603 450 895 / email@example.com
About the Earlham Institute
The Earlham Institute is a hub of life science research, training, and innovation focused on understanding the natural world through the lens of genomics.
Embracing the full breadth of life on Earth, our scientists specialise in developing and testing the latest tools and approaches needed to decode living systems and make predictions about biology.
The Earlham Institute is based within the Norwich Research Park and is one of eight institutes that receive strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UKRI, as well as support from other research funders.