Funding for social, economic genomics research

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Genetics

New funding is to be made available for three UK-based centres
researching the social and economic impact of advances in genomics,
a hot area for the food and nutritional industries that advocates
believe could help deal with lifestyle disease epidemics.

The funding, to the tune of £17m (c €25m), is being released by the Economic and Social Research Council for three of its research centres that make up the ESRC genomics Network: CESAGen, EGENIS and INNOGEN. It will allow the researchers to build on work begun with a £10m grant in 2000, taking the project through to 2012.

Almost £4m of the new funding is earmarked for EGENSIS, the ESCR Centre for Genomics in Society at Exeter, which will look at the social implications of contentious aspects of genomic technology, including nutrigenomics.

A scientific term coined only in 1999, nutrigenomics involves the development of new nutrients and understanding of how they work in the human body, and the subsequent personalisation of nutrition.

Dutch group DSM is amongst the industry leaders that have demonstrated an interest in this area, with its on-going partnership with personalised nutrition company Sciona. US-based WellGen is also developing several ingredients with their roots in nutrigenomics.

EGENIS's brief also includes systems biology and gene therapy.

CESAGen (Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics), a Cardiff-Lancaster collaboration, is to receive £8m towards it mission of addressing social aspects of genomics application in food and nutrition, along with health service delivery, behaviour and criminal responsibility, and human enhancements.

"Insights from social science explain how genomic technologies can benefit our health service and realise the potential benefits that they bring to developing countries,"​ said Adrian Alsop, director of research, training and development for the ESRC.

Edinburgh University and Open University's Innogen (Innovation in Genomics) centre will receive £5m towards is programme of bringing together social, medical and natural scientists for "a new life science economy and the governance of innovation in the life sciences"​ - in partnership with industry, private interest groups, policy makers, regulators and citizens.

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