Babraham Institute

The Babraham Institute is a life sciences research institution and a partner institute of the University of Cambridge. The Babraham Institute is based in a former manor house surrounded by an extensive parkland estate, just south of Cambridge, England. It is an independent and charitable organization which is involved in biomedical research, including healthy aging and molecular biology. Its current director is Cambridge Professor Michael Wakelam.

The Babraham Institute
Michael J O Wakelam
Key people
Michael Wakelam
Wolf Reik
Martin Turner
Len Stephens
Phillip Thomas Hawkins
AffiliationsBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
Formerly called
Institute of Animal Physiology (IAP)
Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics Research (IAPGR)


The institute is located on the historic Babraham Hall Estate, situated six miles south-east of Cambridge University, near the Gog Magog Hills. It is close to where the ancient Roman Via Devana crossed the prehistoric Icknield Way. The estate includes Babraham Hall, designed in the Jacobean style by Philip Hardwick, which was built between 1832 and 1837. The hall was purchased by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in 1948 at the suggestion of Prof Ivan De Burgh Daly,[1] together with 182 hectares of farm and woodland to become the Institute of Animal Physiology, Babraham.[2][3]

In 1986, The Institute of Animal Physiology was joined with two Scottish institutes based at Roslin, The Animal Breeding Research Organisation (ABRO) and the Poultry Research Centre, to form The Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics Research (IAPGR) funded by the Agricultural and Food Research Council (AFRC). In 1993, Roslin and Babraham formed two separate institutes, at which time the Babraham Institute assumed its current name. in 1994, The AFRC was disbanded and The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) was formed. All work with direct relevance to agriculture ceased in 1998.

Research at the Babraham Institute

The aim of the research conducted at The Babraham Institute is to study the molecular mechanisms that underlie normal cellular processes and functions, and to understand how these systems are affected by age. The Institute's work also covers how faults or abnormalities in these systems may contribute to disease. The Institute has the status of a postgraduate department within the University of Cambridge and trains PhD students who are registered with the University's Faculty of Biology. The research laboratories of the Institute are structured around three strategic programmes:

  • Signalling (headed by Len Stephens): focuses on proteins that play a critical role in controlling communication between and within cells. These proteins make up the signalling pathways that organise how cells and organs develop and react to their environment.
  • Lymphocyte Signalling and Development (headed by Martin Turner): investigates signal transduction pathways that regulate the survival and activation of lymphocytes.
  • Epigenetics (headed by Wolf Reik): studies how epigenetic information is introduced into the genome during early development of an organism, which can in part depend on environmental or nutritional factors acting through cell signalling pathways.

Research breakthroughs made at the Babraham Institute include the discovery of liposomes by Alec Bangham,[4] the role of Inositol trisphosphate in the release of Calcium from intracellular stores by Michael Berridge,[5] the discovery that genomic imprinting was carried by DNA methylation by Wolf Reik.[6]

Many of its past and current employees were elected fellows of the Royal Society, including Drs Ivan de Burgh Daly (1943), Sir John Henry Gaddum (1945), Marthe Vogt (1952), Richard Darwin Keynes (1959), Sir Barry Cross (1975), Sir Robert Brian Heap (1989), M Azim Surani (1990), Robin Francis Irvine (1993), Jonathan Charles Howard (1995), Wolf Reik (2010), Len Stephens (2011), Phil Hawkins (2013).

Babraham Institute Enterprise Ltd (BIE),[7] the wholly owned trading subsidiary of the Babraham Institute promotes knowledge transfer and translation of the Institute’s research discoveries, actively managing and exploiting the Institute’s intellectual property, promoting and negotiating commercial research partnerships and establishing spin-out companies when appropriate.


The Institute's research programmes are funded by the University of Cambridge and Institute Strategic Programme Grants (ISPGs) awarded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Additional grant funding comes from the BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, the European Commission, as well as other charitable bequests and industry donations.



  1. "Details 1132". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
  2. Daly, I. D. B. (1957). "A.R.C. Institute of Animal Physiology, Babraham, Cambridge". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 146 (923): 194–205. Bibcode:1957RSPSB.146..194D. doi:10.1098/rspb.1957.0004.
  3. Donald William Butcher (1954) A Short History of Babraham Hall and the Babraham Estate. ASIN: B000WRZKK6
  4. Bangham, AD; Standish, MM; Watkins, JC (1965). "Diffusion of univalent ions across the lamellae of swollen phospholipids". J Mol Biol. 13: 238–252. doi:10.1016/s0022-2836(65)80093-6. PMID 5859039.
  5. Berridge MJ and Irvine RF (1984) Inositol trisphosphate, a novel second messenger in cellular signal transduction. Nature 312, 315 - 321
  6. Reik, W; Collick, A; Norris, ML; Barton, SC; Surani, MA (1987). "Genomic imprinting determines methylation of parental alleles in transgenic mice". Nature. 328 (6127): 248–251. Bibcode:1987Natur.328..248R. doi:10.1038/328248a0.
  7. "Babraham Institute Enterprise Ltd - Babraham Research Campus, Babraham, Cambridge, United Kingdom". Retrieved 2011-08-31.

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