Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Informatics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

University of Birmingham Invests £2 Million in Environmental Genomics Program

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Last Updated: Thursday, July 26, 2012
Bookmark and Share
The research initiative aims to build genomics and bioinformatics expertise for the emerging field of environmental genomics.

Environmental genomics uses high-throughput DNA technologies and the analysis of high-dimensional data to link gene functions and interactions to the fate of natural populations coping with environmental challenges, including global climate change. This new research initiative builds upon the School’s expertise in cellular, genetic and metabolomic toxicology to understand how organisms respond to environmental stress, particularly from pollution.

There are currently over 80,000 chemicals used by manufacturers of consumer goods that are released into the environment, yet only around 7% have ever been tested for their potential health effects to humans and ecosystems, even in rudimentary ways. As more products are introduced to markets every year, there is now great demand by regulatory authorities and industries for new technologies to quickly, cheaply and effectively measure the possible toxicities of these chemicals.

‘Government agencies on both sides of the Atlantic agree that high-throughput genomics are expected to be the basis for environmental and human health protection and remediation by 2015, thus creating a global demand for these skills and technologies’, said Professor Malcolm Press, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham.

To jump-start this effort, the University is investing in positions to appoint, post-doctoral fellowships, technicians, doctoral student training and by building impressive genomics, metabolomics, computing and laboratory facilities. The initiative is under the direction of Professor John Colbourne, who has been recruited from Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. Colbourne was genomics director of the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics, the lead institution to describe the genome sequence of a tiny crustacean called Daphnia. For many decades, Daphnia serves as the primary aquatic invertebrate test-organism by environmental protection agencies around the world. Because of Colbourne’s work in conjunction with the Daphnia Genomics Consortium (DGC), the US National Institutes of Health now includes this species within its selective list of model organisms for biomedical research, yet here with special emphasis on understanding how genes and environments interact to determine disease susceptibility.

Daphnia measures 3-6 mm, is particularly sensitive to chemicals, is a keystone species of freshwater food chains, has a remarkable range of adaptive responses to ecological conditions, and shares the most number of genes with humans from among the other invertebrate model species.

‘I am excited by this opportunity to help assemble a unique research group that studies genomics to improve the environment. This investment will help catalyze international cooperation and provide a training ground for early career scientists in the field’, said Colbourne. ‘The University of Birmingham is a natural home for this type of multidisciplinary research,’ he adds. The UK represents half of the European laboratories participating in the DGC, which is open to researchers from around the world wanting to collaborate by sharing resources and expertise.

While at Indiana University, Colbourne has forged strong ties with corporations that share the vision of modernizing environmental risk assessment. These industry-academic collaborations are also providing training on the uses of technologies for the field, including at an annual Environmental Genomics summer course at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, in Maine, where Colbourne holds an adjunct teaching position.

‘Imagine a new cohort of trained scientists working in academia, government or for industry who can reliably forecast potential environmental problems from the biochemical responses of selected animals to stress, long before actual harm is realized’, asks Mark Viant, Professor of Metabolomics at the University of Birmingham and member of the DGC. ‘This technology can be a key to help industries manufacture greener products and better manage their environmental and investment risks.’

The plan for financing the initiative’s growth is to leverage this University’s initial investment with government research grants and contributions from industry, private foundations and donors.

‘The economic rewards from the expanding applications of science that is born of basic genomics research are obvious,’ said Colbourne, ‘yet the infrastructure and jobs needed to support a large-scale genomics testing and bioinformatics research facility will require investors from all sectors, who are concerned by the increasing demands that humans place on essential ecosystem services, including our need for clean water.’


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,200+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,600+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

BGI, University of Birmingham Create UK Environmental Omics Centre
The Centre will seek to protect environment, health and global biodiversity by analysing the toxicity of compounds more efficiently than has been achieved before.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Scientific News
What Makes a Good Scientist?
It’s the journey, not just the destination that counts as a scientist when conducting research.
Applying Deep Learning to Drug Discovery
Researchers train deep neural networks to predict the therapeutic use of large number of multiple drugs using gene expression data obtained from high-throughput experiments on human cell lines.
Advancing Protein Visualization
Cryo-EM methods can determine structures of small proteins bound to potential drug candidates.
Gene Expression Controls Revealed
Researchers have modelled every atom in a key part of the process for switching on genes, revealing a whole new area for potential drug targets.
Making Genetic Data Easier to Search
Scripps team streamlines biomedical research by making genetic data easier to search.
Monovar Drills Down Into Cancer Genome
Rice, MD Anderson develop program to ID mutations in single cancer cells.
It’s Now Easier To Go With The Flow
Rice University tool simplifies comparison of flow cytometry data for laboratories.
Making Precision Medicine a Reality
Researchers are one step closer to understanding the genetic and biological basis of diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis – and identifying new drug targets and therapies.
New Database for Sharing MS Clinical Trial Data
A new database containing nearly 2500 patient records from the placebo arms of nine multiple sclerosis (MS) clinical trials is now available for research by qualified investigators.
‘Precision Prevention’ for Colorectal Cancer
New risk prediction model — not yet ready for clinical use — incorporates genetic, lifestyle and environmental risk factors.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
SELECTBIO

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,200+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,600+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!