A brief introduction to the MRC WIMM, from Professor KJ Patel
Full video available on our YouTube channel.
The Weatherall institute was founded by Sir David Weatherwall in 1990. At its creation, its main purpose was to bring the revolution in molecular biology to clinical medicine. So at that point, it was revolutionary institute, in that it was one of the few places in the world where this was happening.
As we now know, the molecular biological revolution has completely transformed the healthcare and the healthcare sciences. Molecular biology is now an established discipline, and the next era is the new revolution in the life sciences, which is our unprecedented ability to manipulate genes, through the use of gene editing technology at an unprecedented scale.
The second major revolution that we are going through currently is the ability to look at DNA at unparalleled resolution, and it's collectively known as the omics revolution, and we want to be at the forefront of that.
And the final revolution is the big advances made in being able to solve the structure of proteins at atomic resolution. Where it normally took up to 20 to 30 years to achieve this for a single protein, this can be now done very very quickly by the revolutionary technique of cryo-electron microscopy.
And what we want to do is to bring these three revolutions to the scientists who work on basic problems related to human health, to understand the fundamental reasons why cells become dysfunctional and ultimately cause human diseases.
DNA stability and instability is fundamental towards what drives evolution as a changing process. Evolution occurs because of alteration in DNA and the selection of that advantage it confers. But when we turn to human disease, when DNA repair and mutagenesis goes awry - that ultimately is the root cause of the genetic changes that lead to cancer. The wear and tear of DNA ultimately leads to the degenerative process that leads to human aging. And so understanding how this happens and what drives it will affect our ability to to understand these two common afflictions.
It's remarkable to feel that you could come in every day and feel that you have a good chance to challenge and uncover what billions of years of evolution has created in front of you. And to get a unique insight every now and then into the mechanism of life and that is an incredibly thrilling thing to a thrilling process to be part of.