University of Glasgow leads the way in unique collaboration

The University of Glasgow has forged an exciting and unique alliance between Computing Science and Biology through the establishment of the Bioinformatics Research Centre (BRC) and the Sir Henry Wellcome Functional Genomics Facility (SHWFGF).

The understanding of the function of our genes requires close interdisciplinary links between biology, medicine and bioinformatics. By establishing the BRC and SHWFGF, the University of Glasgow has further strengthened its long term commitment to cutting edge research in this area.

Formally opening tomorrow, 11 September, the two facilities have already developed successful collaborative projects that explore the molecular causes of disease in order to facilitate the development of new drugs.

The unique attribute of the BRC is that although it is part of the Department of Computing Science, it is physically located in the Institute of Biomedical and Life Science. The BRC's research programme aims to close the loop between the wet-lab and computer analysis by actively promoting collaborative projects between life scientists and bioinformaticians.

Director of the BRC, Professor David Gilbert said, "The physical proximity of the biologists to the computer scientists will help facilitate an ongoing and dynamic chain of exchange and communication." The BRC already has a rapidly expanding strong and active research team, with backgrounds ranging from molecular biology to theoretical computer science.

The Life Science element of this exciting initiative has been created through a £4.5m investment with major contributions from The Wellcome Trust and the University of Glasgow to establish The Sir Henry Wellcome Functional Genomics Facility (SHWFGF). The SHWFGF combines state-of-the-art technology and expertise in genomics, proteomics, tissue microanalysis and bioinformatics, the key tools for modern life science research.

Director, Professor Walter Kolch, explains, "The aim of the SHWFGF is to promote biological and biomedical research by providing a cutting edge technology platform, which thanks to our highly skilled staff can be tailored to meet the needs of both basic and clinical researchers."

'This integration of postgenomic disciplines into one comprehensive facility makes us quite unique. It builds on the strengths and expertise that already exist here and at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research and Strathclyde University.'

Professor Kolch continued, "I see the Facility not only as a technology platform, but also as an incubator that will enable cross-fertilisation and innovation through collaboration. This synergy is strengthened by the valuable input from the Bioinformatics Research Centre."

Professor Gilbert added, "What we have here is a unique facility for researchers in Scotland and beyond to pursue both small and large scale projects in functional genomics. These projects, in turn, will allow the amassing and analysis of vital information to assist in diagnosis, detection and prevention of disease."

Professor Kolch concluded, "As life scientists, we are now in a position to produce an incredible amount of data on our genes which hold the answers to the secrets of life and disease. But while we can ask increasingly complex questions, we need the cutting edge technology of our computing scientist colleagues to assist us in extracting those answers from all that information.

Ultimately, we can envisage the development of 'personalised medicine' where treatment is specifically designed to suit the needs of each patient depending upon his or her genetic makeup."

Media Relations Office (

Press are invited to attend an informal viewing of the facilities and meet with Professors Kolch and Gilbert at The Davidson Building between 11-12pm on Thursday 11 September. Please let the Press Office know if you would like to come along. (0141 330 3535)

First published: 10 September 2003