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Hi-tech research R&D facility with strong environmental credentials, built on the Wellcome Trust's Cambridge campus



HIGHLIGHTS

  • New Technical Hub for bioinformatics on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus
  • Over 5,000m2 of hi-tech R&D facilities on Cambridge science campus
  • Part of European Molecular Biology Laboratory
  • 85 groups use for world-leading research to understand how biology works
  • Sustainability features include photovoltaic panels providing 10% of energy

EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL- EBI), in Cambridgeshire, is a renowned global leader in bioinformatics, the science of analysing, storing and sharing large biological data sets that is essential to discovering how genes affect the health of humans, plants and animals.

Life scientists all over the world use EMBL- EBI’s infrastructure to share and access data to drive cutting-edge research in genomics andmolecular biology.

EMBL-EBI is currently supporting major scientific programmes including:

  • UK Biobank: genomic data from 500,000 volunteers is distributed via EMBL-EBI’s European Genome-phenome Archive
  • Human Cell Atlas: contributing to the creation of the Data Coordination Platform which will enable scientists from all over the world to define everycell in the human body

Our role

We created the facility as a £20m expansion of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus at Hinxton near Cambridge. It supports the growing need for the biological data management and analysis provided by EMBL-EBI.

It is home to the ELIXIR Directorate, which coordinates bioinformatics activities throughout Europe to increase the availability and uptake of biological data in commercial and non-commercial R&D.

We created a three-storey building providing over 5,000m2 of research and training, with facilities that include:

  • 150-seat lecture theatre
  • training centre
  • media studio
  • three-storey atrium

As bioinformatics involves analysing very large volumes of data about living things, it is essential for tackling the serious challenges our society faces, from providing healthcare to an ageing population to securing our food and water resources. The new facilities we built enable researchers throughout Europe to remain competitive in this expanding area, and will secure the UK’s position at the forefront of bioinformatics.

From the South Building, EMBL-EBI provides freely available data from life science experiments. It also performs basic research in computational biology and offers an extensive user training programme, supporting researchers in academia and industries.

Creating this facility also offers space for collaboration with industry partners in the spheres of pharma, agribusiness, biotech and consumer goods.

“This splendid new building heralds the next phase in bioinformatics at EMBL-EBI, when biodata joins the ranks of Big Data and ELIXIR pioneers a new approach to saving and sharing research data throughout Europe. These data are a goldmine for research, and are driving novel R&D in both academia and the bioindustries.”

Janet Thornton, director, European Bioinformatics Institute

Sustainability

The building has strong environmental credentials. It is built on an east-west axis, with the facade south facing to optimise use of natural light.

Aluminium windows create a brise soleil, and the curtain walling is double insulated, with operable windows. Internal window shades are managed by an automatic system, lowering after dark.

The roof, constructed as a rain screen, integrates photovoltaic panels which provide 10% of the building's energy needs.