With the advent of affordable highly parallel DNA and RNA sequencing, tremendous opportunities are opening up for applying multi-omics approaches to advance our understanding of disease and consequent healthcare options. The challenge is two-fold, to understand how genetic and epigenetic changes across the frequency spectrum impact health and disease, and translate these findings to tools that will empower precision medicine.
The Centre for Genomic Health (CGH) brings together the wealth of genomic expertise around the Queen Mary campus to tackle some of the key road blocks in the field, such as interpreting the non-coding genome which will render the output of whole genome sequencing even more rewarding.
Among the strengths of CGH is its proximity to Genomics England which was created to deliver the UK’s 100,000 NHS Genomes project. QMUL provides strong scientific leadership to Genomics England (Caulfield, Turnbull, Jones), and it is hosted on site. Furthermore, the East London Genes and Health (ELGH) project which investigates how genes normally vary from person to person in the local adult Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities and explore their effect through e-health records (van Heel) and the Barts Bioresource (Petersen) which is a fast growing medical research programme housed at London’s renowned St Bartholomew’s Hospital, provide unique population and patient resources to test and apply genomic tools to improve health. ELGH has already recruited over 20,000 volunteers and opened a Centre for Population Genomic Medicine as a hub for engagement and recall. The Bioresource has consented 14,000 volunteers so far. Our expertise in Genomics is coupled with world-class Epigenetics. Members of the QMUL Epigenetics Hub investigate basic mechanistic aspects of the epigenome and undertake large-scale epigenome-wise association studies (EWASs).
The Faculty of the Centre for Genomic Health has active links with many national initiatives in genomics and big data such as the Farr Institute, the UK Biobank, and the Digital Health innovations and is leading many international efforts on common and rare disease genomics. There is strong research interest in cancer genomics including genetic predisposition, cancer evolution and precision medicine. The leadership team is Rakyan, van Heel and Caulfield, and the Centre will concentrate on promoting interactions between members of the genomic community both within and outside QMUL as well as with the broader Life Sciences community in particular the centre for Computational Biology . Our aim is to foster new joint work which might not otherwise take place.