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Scotland Takes Aim at Precision Medicine Breakthroughs with Catapult

publication date: Nov 17, 2015
 | 
author/source: University of Glasgow

Glasgow has been named as the base of one of six regional centres of excellence announced today by the Precision Medicine Catapult. 

University of GlasgowEstablished in April 2015 and funded by Innovate UK, the Precision Medicine Catapult is the UK's new national innovation centre for precision medicine. Its aim is to make the UK the most attractive place in the world in which to develop precision medicine test and therapies.

The Scottish centre of excellence, based in Glasgow, will be led by the University of Glasgow and the Scottish Government on behalf of the NHS Research Scotland, the Universities of Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen and industry partners Aridhia Informatics, ThermoFisher Scientific and Illumina.

Precision medicine uses diagnostic tests and data-based insights to understand a patient's disease more precisely and so select treatments with more predictable, safer, cost-effective outcomes. The UK’s research and clinical expertise, combined with government’s major investment in relevant research infrastructure, has placed it in a leading position in this area.

The other regional centres of excellence will be based in Belfast, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester and Oxford. Each centre will act as a hub for regional precision medicine activities within the UK-wide network, coordinated from Precision Medicine Catapult’s Cambridge headquarters. The centres of excellence will work on locally driven programmes and use the Precision Medicine Catapult network to harness the breadth of UK expertise, developing innovative technologies and solutions for broader use across the UK’s healthcare sector.  

Professor Anna Dominiczak, Regius Professor of Medicine, Vice Principal and Head of the University’s College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, said: “We’re very pleased and proud to be partnering with the Precision Medicine Catapult to lead the only Scottish centre of excellence. 

“Precision medicine aims to deliver the right drug for the right patient at the right time, and some of the best work in this emerging field is being done here in Scotland.

Stratified Medicine Scotland – Innovation Centre, based in Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, is home to world-leading precision medicine exemplar projects whose input will help the centre of excellence achieve its goals, and excellent research is also being carried out across the whole of Scotland. 

“We’re looking forward to working closely with the Precision Medicine Catapult to develop new forms of treatment for many chronic illnesses.”

The announcement was made in Glasgow by the UK Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson, who said, ‘The UK is a world leader in the life sciences and that’s in no small part thanks to innovative firms and academics across the country. As a One Nation Government we are committed to strengthening our capabilities in this crucial sector. These centres of excellence will join together a network of researchers to develop precision medicine technologies that will save lives and support growth in our world-class life science industry.’

The Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Health Shona Robison said: “It is great news that Glasgow has been chosen as one of the regional centres of excellence for the Precision Medicine Catapult.  Glasgow, and indeed Scotland, has a long established international reputation for innovation and world-leading research, with particular strengths and expertise in medicine and healthcare.”

“This decision demonstrates how the Scottish Government’s investment of £124 million in our Innovation Centres attracts further funding from other sources. It adds to our potential to generate up to £1.5 billion for our economy and support around 5,000 jobs.”

A physical presence will be established at each centre, with local recruitment to build expert teams. The centres will work collaboratively with local, national and global stakeholders including government, academia, health systems and SMEs, with broad industry engagement to identify and resolve barriers to building a leading UK precision medicine industry.  

Expertise in core areas such as data analytics, clinical trials, regulatory affairs and health economics will be based at the Cambridge head office, along with business services. Activities across all centres will include support of major clinical and data programmes, such as testing of new precision medicine-ready clinical trial models and the development of NHS adoption routes. Development of new diagnostics, IT and e-health systems are also fundamental to the success of the UK’s precision medicine industry,  and the Precision Medicine Catapult will work with government initiatives, industry and regulators to build the sector.

John McKinley, CEO of the Precision Medicine Catapult, said: “We're delighted to announce the location of our first centres of excellence, each with access to a unique blend of regional expertise. Project development work has been ongoing across the UK and we will be launching offices and related programmes over the coming months.  As well as growing the UK's strong position in precision medicine, we believe our network will deliver health and economic impact at a local and national level.”


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