Bringing genomics from basic science to the transformation of drug discovery


Founded by four of the world’s leading geneticists

They share a commitment to using genomics research to transform healthcare, and their academic work has been cited over 50,000 times. In 2014 they formed a company to combine cutting-edge science with commercial delivery.

 Genomics plc was born

  • Prof. Peter Donnelly

    Founder & CEO

  • Prof. Gil McVean

    Founder & Director

  • Dr. Chris Spencer

    Founder & Head of Innovation

  • Dr. Gerton Lunter


To address the most important challenges in drug discovery we have built the world’s largest genomic database. Together with our brilliant team and innovative algorithms we have an unprecedented opportunity to make a difference.

Board Members

Prof. Peter Donnelly

Founder & CEO

I am Director of the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, and Professor of Statistical Science, at the University of Oxford. My research involves the analysis of genomic data to understand human disease, human biology, and human history.

After growing up in Australia, I studied for a doctorate in Mathematics in Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar.   My work has focussed on genetics and genomics for the last 15 years, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be involved in one of the most exciting areas of science.  It is an honour to have been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, and of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries.

I am proud of having played a leading role in some of the major national and international genomics projects, including the HapMap Project, and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium.  The main paper from the Consortium – which I chaired – won several awards, including Scientific American’s Research Leader of the Year, The Lancet’s Paper of the Year, and the Amadeo Prize. While my TED talk has (scarily) been viewed a million times.

Beyond work, I love being with my kids, playing and watching sport, cooking and dancing (badly).

Papers and Talks

Genetics, genomics, and human disease

Genome-wide association study of 14,000 cases of seven common diseases and 3,000 shared controls

Public Lectures

How juries are fooled by statistics

The Gene Revolution


David Norwood

Chairman of the Board

My long career has been spent building a number of science, technology and investment companies. I am the founder of IP Group plc, one of the UK’s leading technology commercialisation businesses. I now lead Oxford Sciences Innovation, the largest university venture fund worldwide.

Following my graduation from Keble College, University of Oxford, where I read History I joined city investment bank Bankers’ Trust.  Since then I  have been a founder and/or director of many UK technology companies including Oxford Nanopore, Proximagen, Synairgen, Ilika, Oxford Catalysts and Plectrum Petroleum (acquired by Cairn Energy).

Chess has always been a passion of mine and I was awarded the International Master title and International Grandmaster titles in the mid and late eighties.  Currently I am a member of the Internet Chess Club and have on a number of occasions captained, managed, or sponsored the England Squad in major team events such as the Olympiad.









John Colenutt

COO & Director

I’ve spent most of my career in investment banking with Cazenove, as Head of Research, and later as COO for its joint venture with JPMorgan. More recently I was COO of Teach First – the fast-growing UK charity closing the educational divide by placing top graduates in low-income schools.

I am enjoying the challenges of building a successful genomics analysis business, which will make a massive difference to healthcare.

Outside of work I enjoy time with my family. I’m also a keen road cyclist and a dangerous skier.



Dr. Jeff Barrett

CSO & Director

I built a fifteen year career at the world's biggest academic genome centres to understand how genomics can help us figure out human disease. I see Genomics plc as uniquely placed to translate that research into improved human health, and am excited about driving our scientific strategy as CSO.

After a degree in physics from MIT I worked as a programmer and analyst during the founding years of the Broad Institute. I moved to Oxford where I received a D.Phil. in statistical genetics, and then to the Wellcome Sanger Institute, near Cambridge. I have led some of the largest genome-sequencing studies in the world, working to understand how genetic variation influences human diseases ranging from infection and inflammation to autism and schizophrenia. My academic work has been cited more than 65,000 times.

From 2015 to early 2018 I was Head of Open Targets, a unique, pre-competitive partnership of the Sanger Institute, European Bioinformatics Institute, GSK, Biogen and Takeda. Together we systematically improved the identification and prioritisation of drug targets for safe and effective medicines by combining large-scale genomic experiments with objective statistical and computational techniques. I see my move to Genomics plc as the next phase of that journey to use genomics to transform drug discovery.

Links to some of my work:


Video of a keynote at Discovery on Target:


Prof. Gil McVean

Founder & Director

I am a Professor of Statistical Genetics at the University of Oxford, the Director of the Oxford Big Data Institute and a founder of Genomics plc. My main expertise is in statistical genetics, human genome variation and evolution.

I help organise and run the 1,000 Genomes Project, which is mapping human genomic variation. I’m also part of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health where I help establish methods and protocols for storing and exchanging genomic data with linked medical information.

Along with my Francis Crick lecture at the Royal Society, one of my proudest moments was a 2004 paper showing recombination hotspots in humans.

Outside work, my passions lay in family, natural history and various forms of sourdough.


Dr. David Altshuler


David Altshuler is Executive Vice President, Global Research and Chief Scientific Officer at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. He leads Vertex’s research efforts aimed at discovering new medicines for the treatment of CF and other serious diseases, overseeing the company’s three research sites in Boston, San Diego and Oxford, UK.

David was previously one of four founding members, Deputy Director and Chief Academic Officer at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, a professor at Harvard and MIT, and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was a leader of the SNP Consortium, HapMap and 1,000 Genome Projects, and discovered over 100 gene variants associated with type 2 diabetes and other common diseases. A member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, David was named a Champion of Change by the White House for his leadership in creating and leading the Global Alliance for Genomic and Health.


Dr. Sam Williams


I have over 20 years' experience in the biotechnology industry, both as a top-ranked equity analyst in the City of London and, subsequently, as a chief executive and investor.

I am Executive Chairman of Istesso Limited, a London-based drug-discovery company, and Head of Life Sciences at IP Group where I serve as Chairman of portfolio companies Iksuda Ltd and Microbiotica Ltd, and as a non-executive director of Diurnal Group plc. I have a PhD in molecular biology from Cambridge and a degree in biology from Oxford.