Transcriptomics Facility

Contact: Dr Julius Muller

Tel: +44 (0)1865 287858


This core facility was established in 2013 with the support of a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award to primarily support Jenner Investigators with the following objectives:

1. To identify transcriptomic correlates of vaccine immunogenicity for a range of novel and licensed vaccines in adults, children and livestock.

2. To identify transcriptomic correlates of vaccine efficacy for a broad range of human and veterinary vaccines.

3. To evaluate new immunomodulatory molecules suggested by transcriptomic findings in vectored vaccines for improved immunogenicity and efficacy.

Heatmap visualizing functional patterns in large scale datsets. These patterns are brought into biological context by data mining.

What is transcriptomics?


DNA is a long molecule found in the nucleus of every cell of living organisms and contains genetic information required for life. However, only about 1% of the DNA is read (i.e. transcribed) into an intermediate product called RNA which then codes for proteins. A gene is the stretch of DNA that contains information to code for RNA. Transcriptomics is the study of the RNA molecules.

All cells throughout the body (except sperm and ova) contain exactly the same DNA in the nucleus. However, different cell types express (i.e. turn on) different genes at different times depending on nutrient availability, environmental variables, external signals as well as presence of infectious agents (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, virus, worms).

Recent technological developments mean that we are now able to study the entire transcriptome (tens of thousands of RNA molecules) simultaneously. Two popular measuring tools are gene expression microarrays and RNA-sequencing.

Why is transcriptomics important for vaccine development?

A vaccine works by introducing a safe agent that closely resembles the disease causing infectious agent. This trains the body's immune system to recognize it as a foreign object, and causes the immune system to remember it in future so the immune system can attack and destroy the agent quickly when the first real infection occurs.

Studying transcriptomics of vaccinees of a trial vaccine allows us to quickly and safely investigate the response of the immunological genes to the vaccine. This information allows us to understand whether individuals respond in the same way to the vaccine, and whether these differences influence vaccine effectiveness. It also allows us to propose new ideas for vaccine development.

Services offered to Jenner Investigators

• Consumables funding

• General management skills

• Wet lab services

• Bioinformatics and analyses services