The Babraham Institute, is an independent charitable life sciences institute involved in biomedical research, set in an extensive parkland estate just south of Cambridge. Its current director is Prof. Michael Wakelam.
The institute is located on the Babraham Hall estate, situated six miles south-east of Cambridge by the Gog Magog Downs, close to where the Via Devana, crossed the prehistoric Icknield Way. The estate includes Babraham Hall, designed in the Jacobean style by Philip Hardwick, which was built between 1832 and 1837. The hall was purchased by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in 1948 at the suggestion of Prof Ivan De Burgh Daly, together with 182 hectares of farm and woodand to become the Institute of Animal Physiology, Babraham.
In 1986, The Institute of Animal Physiology was joined with two Scottish institutes based at Roslin, The Animal Breeding Research Organisation (ABRO) and the Poultry Research Centre, to form The Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics Research (IAPGR) funded by the Agricultural and Food Research Council (AFRC). In 1993, Roslin and Babraham formed two separate institutes, at which time the Babraham Institute assumed its current name. in 1994, The AFRC was disbanded and The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) was formed. All work with direct relevance to agriculture ceased in 1998.
Research at the Babraham Institute
The aim of the research conducted at The Babraham Institute is to discover the molecular mechanisms that underlie normal cellular processes and functions, and how their failure or abnormality may lead to disease. The institute has the status of a postgraduate department within the University of Cambridge and trains PhD students who are registered with the University's Faculty of Biology. The research laboratories of the institute are grouped into four programmes:
- Signalling (headed by Len Stephens): focuses on proteins that play a critical role in controlling communication between and within cells. These proteins make up the signalling pathways that organise how cells and organs develop and react to their environment.
- Lymphocyte Signalling and Development (headed by Martin Turner): investigates signal transduction pathways that regulate the survival and activation of lymphocytes.
- Epigenetics (headed by Wolf Reik): studies how epigenetic information is introduced into the genome during early development of an organism, which can in part depend on environmental or nutritional factors acting through cell signalling pathways.
- Nuclear Dynamics (headed by Peter Fraser): carries out basic research to create an integrated understanding of control of genome function by its structure and dynamic.
Research breakthroughs made at the Babraham Institute include the discovery of liposomes by Alec Bangham, the role of Inositol trisphosphate in the release of Calcium from intracellular stores by Michael Berridge, the discovery that genomic imprinting was carried by DNA methylation by Wolf Reik.
Many of its past and current employees were elected fellows of the Royal Society, including Drs Ivan de Burgh Daly (1943), Sir John Henry Gaddum (1945), Marthe Vogt (1952), Richard Darwin Keynes (1959), Sir Barry Cross (1975), Sir Robert Brian Heap (1989), M Azim Surani (1990), Robin Francis Irvine (1993), Jonathan Charles Howard (1995), Wolf Reik (2010), Len Stephens (2011), Phil Hawkins (2013).
Babraham Institute Enterprise Ltd (BIE), the wholly owned trading subsidiary of the Babraham Institute promotes knowledge transfer and translation of the Institute’s research discoveries, actively managing and exploiting the Institute’s intellectual property, promoting and negotiating commercial research partnerships and establishing spin-out companies when appropriate.
The four institute Programmes are funded by four Institute Strategic Programme Grants (ISPGs) awarded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Additional grant funding comes from the BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, other charities, European Commission and industry.
- 1949-1958 Ivan de Burgh Daly CBE, FRS
- 1958-1965 Sir John Henry Gaddum FRS
- 1965-1972 Richard Darwin Keynes CBE, FRS
- 1973-1989 Sir Barry Albert Cross CBE, FRS
- 1989-1993 Sir Robert Brian Heap CBE, FRS
- 1994-2005 Richard Dyer OBE
- 2005-2007 Richard Bicknell (acting director)
- 2007–present Michael J O Wakelam
- "Babraham Institute - Discovery Biology for Biomedicine - Babraham Research Campus, Babraham, Cambridge, United Kingdom". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
- Daly, I. D. B. (1957). "A.R.C. Institute of Animal Physiology, Babraham, Cambridge". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 146 (923): 194–126. doi:10.1098/rspb.1957.0004.
- Donald William Butcher (1954) A Short History of Babraham Hall and the Babraham Estate. ASIN: B000WRZKK6
- Bangham AD, Standish MM, Watkins JC (1965) Diffusion of univalent ions across the lamellae of swollen phospholipids. J Mol Biol 13, 238–252.
- Berridge MJ and Irvine RF (1984) Inositol trisphosphate, a novel second messenger in cellular signal transduction. Nature 312, 315 - 321
- Reik W, Collick A, Norris ML, Barton SC, Surani MA (1987) Genomic imprinting determines methylation of parental alleles in transgenic mice. Nature 328, 248-251
- "Babraham Institute Enterprise Ltd - Babraham Research Campus, Babraham, Cambridge, United Kingdom". Retrieved 2011-08-31.