Director appointed for new National Mouse Genetics Network

Prof Owen Samson

Professor Owen Sansom has been appointed as Director of the National Mouse Genetics Network.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is investing more than £20 million in this new network to accelerate our understanding of human disease and improve diagnosis and treatments.

It will bring together a package of challenge-focused research clusters distributed across the UK and a long-term partnership with the Mary Lyon Centre at Harwell.

Professor Owen Sansom

Professor Sansom was chosen by an expert panel following an open international search led by MRC.

He is a world-leading scientist using and developing mouse models of cancer and brings a strong vision to establish collaborative networks of mouse geneticists, investigators of human disease and clinicians to develop and validate more targeted models.

Professor Sansom will take up his role as director next month, combining this with his continued leadership of the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute at the University of Glasgow. He said:

It is a privilege to lead the National Mouse Genetics Network. For decades, the UK has been at the forefront of mouse genetics.

Now is a key moment for us to make a step change in our use of complex genetically engineered mouse models to drive fundamental biological discovery, predict therapeutic outcomes and ultimately develop new therapies.

MRC Executive Chair Professor Fiona Watt said:

I am delighted that Professor Sansom will lead this important initiative. He is not only an excellent scientist, but also has the experience of bringing diverse, complex, multinational and national communities together to tackle important challenges.

Developing the network

An initial focus for Professor Sansom in the role will be further development of his vision through engagement with the scientific community.

In late autumn 2020, Professor Sansom will convene a workshop with leading scientists from the mouse and human disease genetics research communities. This will explore key opportunities for the new network in advance of a call for research cluster proposals in early 2021.

The new network is due to launch in early 2022 following selection of the research clusters via competitive peer review.

The development and delivery of the new network will be monitored by the network’s Oversight Board, chaired by Professor Paul Kaye, Professor of Immunology at the Hull York Medical School, University of York and Chair of MRC’s Infections and Immunity Board.

Professor Paul Kaye said:

The creation of the National Mouse Genetics Network provides the opportunity to begin real change. This will not only drive fundamental discovery research but also enable the wider life sciences sector seeking better predictive models for drug and therapeutic development.

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