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London Olympics Testing Lab to Become UK Phenomics Research Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The UK lab that is currently serving as an anti-doping testing facility for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games will be turned into a research center that will focus on phenomics-based disease studies.

The UK's Department of Health said today that the Olympics lab near London, in Harlow, which was provided by GlaxoSmithKline and is operated by King's College London, will be transformed into a facility that is supported by the Medical Research Council and the National Institute of Health Research.

Funded with £10 million ($15.6 million) over five years from the MRC and NIHR, with each contributing £5 million, the MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre will conduct research based on urine, blood, and other samples from patients and volunteers to discover new biomarkers for disease susceptibility and to develop personalized treatments.

Imperial College London will lead a Phenome Centre partnership, which will include GSK, Waters, and Bruker, and will provide academic and life sciences industry researchers access to phenotyping technologies and expertise. Waters and Bruker will contribute mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance technologies to the center.

MRC Chief Executive John Savill in a statement said the center will represent "a phenomenal legacy" from the 2012 Olympics.

"Rather than losing this investment once the Games are over, the collaboration – involving the MRC, NIHR, UK universities, the [National Health Service] and NIHR Biomedical Research Centres, and industry leaders in the field – will provide a unique resource that will ultimately result in benefits for patients," Savill added.

UK Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the Phenome Centre is a "first of its kind" facility," where researchers will pursue treatments for common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and dementia.

"Patients will benefit from faster and more accurate diagnosis and researchers will be able to develop new drugs and treatments as we understand more about the characteristics of diseases and new sub-types of diseases are discovered. Alongside our investment in genomics and gene-based centers, we will in coming years develop world-leading diagnostic capabilities," said Lansley.

"As a scientific partner, Waters is dedicated to supporting the goals and vision of the centre through scientific and training support," Rohit Khanna, VP of worldwide marketing for Waters, said. "In addition to the more than a dozen ACQUITY UPLC/ Xevo and SYNAPT MS systems that will be installed at the facility, Waters will also be providing training and analytical expertise through dedicated, on-site support staff."

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