The countries involved will seek to leverage investments already made at national and EU level, especially in sequencing, biobanking and data infrastructure.

13 European countries have committed to work together and ensure secure and authorised cross-border access to genomic and other health data. 

Despite getting ready to leave the EU next year, Brexit-bound UK, in addition to Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Malta, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Greece and Italy, has pledged to share one million genomes for research purposes by 2022. 

Notably, distinguished research-intensive EU nations such as France and Germany have not signed up to the agreement so far. 

The UK biobank recently announced that it would be sequencing 50,000 whole genomes by 2019, taking its first step towards sequencing 500,000 genomes — a target set by the UK government’s life sciences strategy. 


2020 is the New Hottest Date in Genomics


“This development is transforming in many ways. It massively extends the sorts of questions that scientists can ask and the speed at which they will get results,” UK Biobank’s principal investigator, Professor Sir Rory Collins, said in a statement.

Professor Sir John Bell at the University of Oxford, who is the architect of the life sciences strategy, said: “We hope in the coming months we will be able to consider thoroughly the range of options open for the main programme, including the use of new technologies to enhance the data set.”

“This programme should provide a new global standard for human genome sequencing and will greatly improve our ability to define and treat disease,” he added.