£13 million investment for NERC Environmental Omics Facility

3 July 2020

OMICs facilities funded by NERC

State-of-the-art OMICs facilities funded by NERC
(Credit: NERC)

  • New NERC Environmental Omics Facility will support research tackling global challenges such as biodiversity loss and zoonotic infections
     
  • Facility will be based at the Universities of Liverpool and Sheffield

A new state-of-the-art Scientific Support and Facility (S&F) providing environmental researchers across the UK with access to innovative technologies to enable world-leading environmental research is to open later this year.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) will provide £13million funding for the facility, which will be based at the Universities of Liverpool and Sheffield.

Launching on 1 October 2020, the NERC Environmental Omics Facility (NEOF) will be commissioned for five years with an investment of £2million per annum, plus transformational capital funding of £3million.

Environmental researchers in the UK will be able to access the full range of omics supporting technology, expertise and training. This includes genomics, bioinformatics, proteomics and metabolomics, based on cutting-edge technology tailored specifically to the needs of environmental studies.

The teams at the Universities of Liverpool and Sheffield are currently involved in the NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility (NBAF). They will ensure continuity of service for the environmental omics community during the transition from NBAF to NEOF, as well as introducing new omics capabilities, support and training.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:

“UK researchers are working tirelessly to advance our understanding of the most pressing environmental challenges we face - from combating climate change, reducing pollution and protecting our biodiversity. 

“This funding will ensure our world-leading environmental researchers can access new state of the art equipment and harness innovative technologies to help protect our planet and work towards net zero by 2050.”

Dr Iain Williams, Director of Strategic Partnerships at NERC, said:

“NEOF will be a centre of excellence that allows the UK to maintain and develop its world-leading position in environmental omics, and empower the next generation of environmental researchers with a full range of omic tools and the skills to address pressing environmental science challenges, including biodiversity, species interactions and threats to our wildlife.” 

Professor Steve Paterson, NEOF Director at the University of Liverpool, said:

“I am delighted that we can support NERC science and the world-class community of environmental scientists in the UK. This is an exciting opportunity to use the latest omic technologies to tackle new questions in biodiversity, climate change and wildlife diseases.”

Professor Terry Burke, NEOF Director at the University of Sheffield, said:

“Omics is transforming our ability to understand and manage our environment. We welcome this investment to enable us to make our expertise and equipment readily available to researchers from across the UK, and to enhance our ability to train those at the start of their careers.”

Existing applications and grant holders who use NBAF should continue to liaise with the facility as per their current arrangements.

The announcement follows a review of NERC's S&F portfolio in 2016-2018, designed to ensure that resources continue to be invested in areas of community priority.