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Research Questions

  1. What is the role of Sanger and the Wellcome Genome Campus in the genetics and genomics research landscape?
  2. What are potential areas of opportunity for Sanger and the Genome Campus to further contribute to the genetics and genomics research landscape?

RAND Europe was commissioned by Wellcome to analyse the role and contribution of the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the Wellcome Genome Campus within the field of genetics and genomics. The study also looked at four comparator organisations—the Broad Institute, Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, Janelia Research Campus and the National Human Genome Research Institute. The methods for this study consisted of desk research, case studies, interviews and bibliometric analysis.

Our review found that the main strengths of the Sanger Institute and Genome Campus centre around their leadership and convening role in many international research collaborations, which is also a strength for other large research institutes such as the Broad Institute. The Sanger Institute prioritises openness in sharing data and tools and publishing research, which helps them achieve impact from their work. However, this approach has meant that commercialisation of research has not been as strong as compared to other organisations. The field of genetics and genomics is advancing rapidly, particularly due to availability and affordability of high throughput sequencing technologies, which has changed the competitive advantage that such technologies offer to organisations. The next challenge will be to find a direction for these organisations to explore that fits with their scale, operating environments, unique strengths and values. In the case of Sanger, this means finding an approach that capitalises on their ethos of openness, data sharing and collaboration to shape the development of the field over the coming years.

Key Findings

  • The Sanger Institute and other large research institutes such as the Broad Institute and NHGRI often play key roles in convening and leading large international research consortia on collaborative projects. This collaborative approach can serve not just as a vehicle for the advancement of genetics and genomics, but also as a vehicle for the broadening of participation and capacity development across the research landscape.
  • The Sanger Institute and other organisations at the Wellcome Genome Campus are committed to data sharing, open access and open research, which has helped them achieve impact from their work. However, there is some suggestion that this openness, combined with a clear focus on fundamental research has contributed to a lower level of commercialisation activity for the Sanger Institute compared with some other organisations such as the Broad Institute.
  • A key strength of the Sanger Institute and other large research institutes such as the Broad Institute is the capacity to undertake genetic and genomic science at scale. High speed and high throughput genomic sequencing technology has helped organisations distinguish themselves, but this kind of technology no longer provides the same competitive advantage since it is becoming more affordable and accessible. This presents both challenges and opportunities for organisations as they look for new ways to differentiate themselves within the research landscape.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Review of Wellcome Sanger Institute and Wellcome Genome Campus

  • Chapter Three

    Comparator institutions

  • Chapter Four

    Case studies

  • Chapter Five

    Reflections

  • Annex A

    Methodology

  • Annex B

    Interview protocols

  • Annex C

    Case study structure

Research conducted by

This research was commissioned by Wellcome and conducted by RAND Europe.

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