Happy Birthday, Sanger Institute Blog!

Since August 2012, the Sanger Institute Blog has been bringing you stories from inside the institute. In each post, one of our researchers explains their own science in their own words, providing you with a uniquely personal perspective on everything from exciting new techniques to eureka moments in the lab.

To celebrate the blog’s second birthday, we’ve gathered together the 10 most popular blogs from the past year.

Sequencing Centre. Credit: Genome Research Limited

Sequencing Centre at the Sanger Institute. Credit: Genome Research Limited

1. Disrupting genes and sequencing machines by Matthew Mayho
In this blog, Matthew gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Sequencing Research and Development at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, particularly, how the team has adapted state-of-the-art sequencing technology to keep up with research needs.

2. A genomic revolution in malaria research by Olivio Miotto
Why would you focus malaria research on regions where there are very few cases of malaria? As Olivio explains, the battle lines for tackling drug resistance tend to be drawn in areas where the disease is on the brink of dying out.

3. The rare diseases of mice and men by Damian Smedley
Damian explains how mouse models and bioinformatics can be used together to track down the genetic cause of rare diseases. By studying the symptoms in mice with specific genetic mutations, researchers are able to pin down genes that could be the cause of disease in humans; this software uses the power of big data to speed that process.

4. Single cell genomics: thinking small by Iain Macaulay
We all emerged from a single cell and it only takes a mutation in a single cell to cause disease. Understanding what’s happening in our bodies on a cellular level could transform our understanding of human biology. Iain explains the potential and the current limitations of this emerging field.

Exploring the other 98 per cent of the genome. Credit: Genome Research Limited

Exploring the other 98 per cent of the genome. Credit: Genome Research Limited

5. Exploring the other 98 per cent of the genome by Vincenza Colonna
Just 2 per cent of the human genome is thought to produce the instructions our body needs to create the proteins that make it function. For a long time, the rest was referred to as junk. However, the work of Vincenza and her colleagues is beginning to show that there’s more going on in these regions than we thought.

6. The enemy of my enemy is my friend by Ana Toribio
Viruses aren’t all bad; they can be used to kill disease-causing bacteria. Ana was part of a research team that searched through the waters of Lake Victoria in Kenya to find Vibrio cholerae phages that could be used to treat cholera.

7. An unexpected discovery by Susie Cooke
Susie made a puzzling discovery while mapping genomic junctions in cancer. When she showed it to her Team Leader, he saw that it wasn’t a mistake, it was a phenomenon he’d theorised but never actually found: pseudogenes in cancer.

8. The search for epistasis by Andrew Brown
Figuring out the role of each gene is a complex task. Now imagine that each gene could have an effect on other genes. It’s an additional layer of complexity that’s frankly mind boggling. Andrew suggests it might be time for researchers to start factoring in this controversial theory.

Overview of embryonic origin of brown, brite and white adipocytes. Credit: DOI: 10.1530/JME-13-0158

Overview of embryonic origin of brown, brite and white adipocytes. Credit: DOI: 10.1530/JME-13-0158

9. Fighting fat with fat by Stefania Carobbio
Fat comes in more than one shade; we might be more familiar with problematic white adipose tissue, but we should also consider brown adipose tissue. These are rather different fats that regulate our body temperature by burning up fats; a process that could help in the fight against obesity.

10. How should we use clinical genomic data? by Ewan Birney and Caroline Wright
Genomic screening is becoming more affordable and more widely available. This opens up a number of questions about how the information should be used, particularly by clinicians. Ewan and Caroline discuss their paper on the policy challenges of genome sequencing.

These fantastic blogs are just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve published 62 blogs this year alone, so help to celebrate our birthday by having a browse through the archives.