MRC Human Genetics Unit
Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit

£46.3 million funding boost to MRC Human Genetics Unit

Ongoing research into how genetic code can influence health and disease has secured major financial investment from the Medical Research Council: July 2023

DNA labelled within a zebrafish embryo
DNA labelled within a zebrafish embryo. Credit: Julia Auer

Strategic funding for core programmes at the MRC Human Genetics Unit will address three key challenges to better link genotype to function and phenotype.

Researchers will use a variety of computational and experimental approaches to understand what mutations mean for the function of cells and organisms.

The challenge of how mutations arise and persist in our cells forms another key theme, spanning mutations that can be inherited through to mutations in cancer cells.

The five-year funding will include advancing research into the so-called dark genome – the underexplored 98 per cent of people’s DNA which may provide new insights into complex genetic diseases.

The MRC funding, which represents a significant investment in UK genomics research, will enable researchers at the MRC Human Genetics Unit to employ collaborative research and new techniques to further our understanding of human genetic disease.

The funded research should impact the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of a range of diseases including rare genetic developmental disorders and cancer.

The funding will also boost training, encouraging those from a range of scientific backgrounds, including mathematics and computational science, to train in biomedicine, providing different perspectives to encourage innovation.


It’s exciting that we now have so much human genome sequence data, but we need to turn that data into knowledge about how our genome works in health and disease. This new funding will enable us to tackle that challenge together, harnessing experimental and computational expertise to better understand, manage and treat disease and, ultimately, improve the lives of people living with genetic conditions and cancers.

Professor Wendy BickmoreDirector, MRC Human Genetics Unit

There are major questions to answer in genetics and genomics research, including how variation in the non-coding genome regulates health and disease, and it is vital that we further our understanding in this complex area and underpin the development of new diagnostics and therapies. We are delighted to be supporting the innovative research at the MRC Human Genetics Unit to continue addressing these important questions over the next 5 years.

Dr Megan DowieHead of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Medical Research Council

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