Ministers visit the Babraham Research Campus
The Babraham Research Campus was the focal point of a recent ministerial visit. The BBSRC funded Babraham Institute and Babraham Bioscience Technologies Ltd teamed up to organise the visit, centred around the theme of science and innovation.
David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, Andrew Lansley, MP and Vicky Ford MEP, were hosted by Babraham Institute’s Director, Professor Michael Wakelam and Babraham Bioscience Technologies CEO, Derek Jones. The party (pictured here) were joined by Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Executive Director for Innovation and Skills.
The visit allowed the party to meet several tenant companies who shared their experiences of life on the research campus. Derek commented, “The discussion covered the progress and impact of BBSRC investment in the Babraham Research Campus. We were able to demonstrate our role as a leading UK Research and Innovation Campus. We currently have 50 companies on the campus, which provides jobs and contributes to economic growth as well as helping to identify treatments and technology to treat disease.“
“This visit has provided a great opportunity to bring the campus model to life, our connection with the wider Cambridge bio-medical community and introduce our plans for the future” he added. During the lunchtime session, Derek highlighted the pace of development of the Campus, which was clearly visible to the Ministerial party during a brief site tour.
After lunch, Professor Wakelam took the party to the Institute’s science building, home to all four of the Institutes Strategic Research Programmes. Scientists working in one field, the Epigenetics Research Programme, were introduced to the party and explained their pioneering research.
The party discussed epigenetics research with Babraham scientists, who explained that their work, studies the modification of the genome that does not result in a change to the genetic code. Scientists commented to ministers that this area of science has major implications for regenerative medicine strategies and personalised treatment and is perhaps given greater emphasis when coupled with the knowledge that failure of epigenetic control is linked to human diseases and ageing as well as pregnancy conditions like pre-eclampsia. Professor Wakelam comments, “Our research and our facilities are world class. Many great discoveries have been made here - we believe that our epigenetics research holds the key to one of the next life changing discoveries. As one of our Group Leaders said recently, “The pace at which genome sequencing technology has developed in recent years is truly astonishing and we are very close to an individual being able to read his or her genetic code as a ‘consumer product’”
The party ended their tour in the Imaging and Bioinformatics facilities where they were invited to inspect sequencing techniques and microscopic analysis. It was a great opportunity to view first hand the importance of the analytical services in the role of bioscience research. Professor Wakelam concluded, “We were delighted to welcome the ministerial party to the Babraham Research Campus. These visits play an important part in demonstrating the importance of the sustained investment in world-leading science at the Babraham Institute and allows us to demonstrate our role in innovative science and also significant our contribution to the life science cluster in and around Cambridge.”
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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.