Genomics plc welcomes paper in Nature journal heralding the ‘power of genetics’ in health research

Press Release

Genomics plc welcomes paper in Nature journal heralding the ‘power of genetics’ in health research


CEO Peter Donnelly part of the team which applied sophisticated new statistical techniques to genetic information from the UK Biobank

Study involving 500,000 volunteers highlights the potential of big data to shed light on how our genetic code influences disease


OXFORD, UK — Scientists from Genomics plc were among the leaders of a study published in this week’s edition of Nature magazine on the release of genome-wide data from 500,000 participants of the UK Biobank.  Professor Peter Donnelly, FRS, Founder and CEO, was joint senior author, and Dr Clare Bycroft, one of the company’s data scientists, was lead author of the paper, which, as the culmination of several years’ work, describes the largest genetic study ever undertaken. The data allow researchers to study a range of important questions such as the underlying genetics of disease, and the interactions between genetic and lifestyle factors, opening what the UK Biobank described as “a new era in health research”.

Professor Donnelly took part in the study while in his previous role as Director of the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University and Dr Bycroft was also acting in an academic capacity as part of the Oxford team.

“This ground-breaking research demonstrates the power of genetics to reveal profound new insights into human health and biology, especially when huge amounts of data are combined with sophisticated data analysis,” said Professor Donnelly. “I am proud to have been part of this landmark study, which has shared its outputs openly with both the academic and commercial research communities.”

Genomics has developed a unique analysis engine which uses genetics to understand human biology and the likely efficacy and safety of potential novel medicines. The Genomics engine is the largest of its kind in the world, with over 100 billion data points. It links human genetic variation at over 14 million positions in the human genome to changes in 7,000 molecular, cellular, and physiological measurements and disease outcomes, including over 2,000 from the UK Biobank project itself. The company uses breakthrough proprietary machine learning and statistical algorithms to predict the impact of therapeutic interventions.

A link to the Nature paper, The UK Biobank resource with deep phenotype and genomic data, Bycroft et al,  can be found here.

A link to the UK Biobank press release can be found here.



Genomics plc is a leading genome analysis company formed in 2014 by four leading scientists at the University of Oxford, including Professors Peter Donnelly (then Director of the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics) and Gil McVean (Director of Oxford’s Big Data Institute). Its vision is to use genomic insights to transform the drug discovery industry by getting better drugs developed more quickly and targeted at the right group of patients.

Every individual carries a unique set of genetic variants. Many of these variants change aspects of our biology. The powerful idea which underpins the company’s work is that to understand the consequences of a proposed drug one can look at individuals who happen to carry genetic variants which affect the same part of our biology as the drug. This human genetics approach allows Genomics to learn about human biology, directly, in humans, rather than having to rely on the model systems which lead to 90% of drug targets failing when they are tested in humans.

Genomics plc has developed the largest platform of its kind in the world linking genetic variants to changes in thousands of measurements and disease outcomes, together with breakthrough machine learning algorithms that use this data at scale to learn directly about human biology.

Backed by some of the leading investors in life sciences, Genomics has an expert cross-disciplinary team of over 40 people, primarily scientists and software engineers, with offices in Oxford and Cambridge UK.

For additional information about Genomics plc, please visit



Nicola Duckworth at Genomics plc

+44 (0)1865 981608



Ben Atwell and Andrew Ward at FTI Consulting

+44 (0)20 3720 1000