Institute of Genetics and Cancer

£53m funding boost for MRC Human Genetics Unit

​​​​​​​The MRC Human Genetics Unit has received a £53 million funding boost from the Medical Research Council (MRC), supporting research at the Unit for the next five years: May 2018

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Scientists in the Unit are using the latest technologies to study how our genes work and to uncover the genetic basis of both rare and common diseases.

The scientific aims of the Unit are:

  • To understand the molecular basis of human genetic disease and normal development – especially that of the eye, the brain and growth
  • To identify and understand the genome sequence variants involved in common disease risk and quantitative traits
  • To understand how the flow of information from DNA through RNA to the organism is regulated
  • To identify the forces of mutation and selection that influence human genome variation
  • To investigate opportunities for novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches


The scale and long-term nature of this funding from the Medical Research Council will enable our scientists to tackle the most challenging questions in human genetics.

We are using the latest computational and experimental techniques to investigate how our genomes work to control the function of cells and tissues in people and populations.

We will also be able to train the next generation of scientists to apply their expertise to improving health and the lives of patients and their families.

Professor Wendy BickmoreDirector of the MRC Human Genetics Unit


The MRC Human Genetics Unit was first established more than 60 years ago as the Clinical Effects of Radiation Unit. It was renamed in 1988 and joined the University of Edinburgh in 2012.

Today, The MRC Human Genetics Unit is a major partner in the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecule Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.


The Human Genetics Unit is the MRC’s biggest Unit investment and we’re pleased to continue to support Director Wendy Bickmore’s vision for world-leading research across the next five years and look forward to many exciting discoveries.

Dr Lindsay WilsonProgramme Manager for Genetics and Genomics at the Medical Research Council