New Research Facility opens with a symposium celebrating epigenetics research in Cambridge

New Research Facility opens with a symposium celebrating epigenetics research in Cambridge

The Babraham Institute opened a new research building today, uniting all of the Institute’s academic research groups under one roof to investigate a range of research questions, including the challenges of healthy ageing. The Institute, which celebrates its 65th Anniversary this year at the forefront of life sciences research in the UK, receives strategic support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), underpinning government’s national responsibilities for life sciences research and training. 

Image removed.The building was officially opened by Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of BBSRC. He said, “BBSRC makes a significant investment in the Babraham Institute as part of its strategy to ensure the UK delivers innovative, world-class bioscience research and training, delivering social and economic benefit for the UK and the rest of the world. “The co-location of wet and dry research in this impressive new building will enable greater interplay between the new computational biology research groups and the excellent existing research base at Babraham. This facility will drive forward our understanding of the basic bioscience underpinning lifelong health and ageing.”

As lifespans increase and society ages, understanding ageing and how to stay healthier for longer is a new research priority worldwide. Babraham scientists are studying biological processes, such as developmental regulation in the womb, cell signalling processes and diseases at the molecular and cellular levels, to gain a greater understanding of how our bodies change during normal ageing, what this tells us about the process of age-related disorders, and how the period of healthy ageing could be extended.

Professor Michael Wakelam, Director of the Babraham Institute said, “The opening of our new building heralds a new era in Babraham’s research as we celebrate the 65th Anniversary of the Institute this year. The appointment of new research scientists in computational biology and the integration of all our research laboratories in one contiguous building will enable greater interaction between ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ science. We hope that this will facilitate more cross-talk between our research communities, bringing new insight to the process of normal ageing and enabling the application of this knowledge to age-related disease.”

The Babraham Institute is a world leader  in the field of epigenetics; it is now well established that epigenetics is the ‘integrator’ between the environment and the genome and that external factors like nutritional signals may have consequences later in life or on future generations. To mark the occasion a symposium celebrating epigenetics research at Babraham and across the University of Cambridge followed the official opening ceremony, drawing over 140 scientists from academia and industry.

Professor Wolf Reik, Associate Director at the Babraham Institute and Professor of Epigenetics at the University of Cambridge said, “Today’s symposium enabled scientists, from diverse fields in both academia and industry, to discuss the latest findings from some of the leading epigenetics research labs in the world. A more integrated research environment provided by our new building will bring our computational biologists into closer proximity with the established programmes in epigenetics and nuclear dynamics to help unravel the epigenomic processes regulating our genomes. Altered regulation of the epigenome is likely to underlie many human diseases and the ability to analyse whole epigenomes during normal development and healthy ageing may provide insight for the development of epigenetic-based therapies as well as a greater understanding of how epigenomes are modified by the environment.”

The speakers included Professors Azim Surani (Gurdon Institute), David Baulcombe (Department of Plant Sciences), Tony Kouzarides (Gurdon Institute), Simon Tavare (Cancer Research UK, Cambridge), Shankar Balasubramanian (Department of Chemistry) and Anne Ferguson-Smith (Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience). Professor Ferguson-Smith explained the consequences of maternal undernourishment during pregnancy and how this can have an impact on the health of resulting offspring in adulthood. The speakers discussed how epigenetic information is thought to be inherited across generations, providing a shorter term and flexible type of inheritance in response to environmental signals. 

Contact details:
The Knowledge Exchange Office
Tel:       +44 (0)1223 496206

The Babraham Institute
Babraham Research Campus
Cambridge CB22 3AT
​United Kingdom
Notes to Editors:
About the Babraham Institute:
The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Our research focuses on cellular signalling, gene regulation and the impact of epigenetic regulation at different stages of life. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Institute is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, through an Institute Core Capability Grant and also receives funding from other UK research councils, charitable foundations, the EU and medical charities.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, health and well-being and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.