GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will collaborate with the University Of California (UC), Berkeley to use gene-editing tool CRISPR to look at the ways in which gene mutations cause disease.

The five year collaboration will see UC, Berkeley and GSK set up the Laboratory for Genomics Research (LGR). It is hoped that the new lab will help researchers gain a greater understanding of functional genomics.

“Technology is key to our innovation strategy at GSK, and CRISPR is one of the most important technologies of our time,” said Hal Barron, the chief scientific officer and president for R&D at GSK. “With the expertise of Jennifer and Jonathan helping to steer the LGR, the mission of the lab is to advance our scientific understanding of the relationship between genes and disease to help find better medicines faster.”

The LGR will receive a total of $67 million over a five year period. This will cover the cost of building the facilities and the staff working at the site. The work will be focused on treatments for immunology, oncology and neuroscience.

GSK’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) group will be involved in setting up the LGR’s computational systems.

“One of our key goals is to advance the field overall and make these tools as broadly available as possible,” said Jonathan Weissman, a professor of Cellular Molecular Pharmacology at University of California, San Francisco. “The LGR screening centre will enable labs at UCSF and Berkeley. Having access to it will give our scientists opportunities to advance their research in ways that would be very hard for them to do in their own labs.”