£3.4m boost to precision medicine research in Glasgow

Published: 27 July 2015

The University of Glasgow’s position as a leading centre for the development of precision medicine has been bolstered by the award of £3.4 million.

The University of Glasgow’s position as a leading centre for the development of precision medicine has been bolstered by the award of £3.4 million from the Medical Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to create the largest MRC Molecular Pathology Node in the UK.

The vision of precision medicine is to find treatments based on an individual patients’ own physiology and response to diseases, rather than relying on one-size-fits-all therapies that fail to help many.

Based in the purpose-built Laboratory Medicine Building at The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, the Glasgow Molecular Pathology Node will enable scientists, pathologists and clinicians to collaborate with our industry partners in developing new diagnostic tests. The University’s investments at The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital have already established a world-leading reputation for Glasgow in precision medicine. 

The Node will co-locate with the £20m the Stratified Medicine Scotland  Innovation Centre; a £32m Imaging Centre of Excellence, housing the UK’s first 7-Tesla MRI scanner on a clinical site, which will provide ultra high-resolution imaging to support researchers and clinical trials; a £5m clinical research facility that will host precision medicine clinical trials; and the £30m Queen Elizabeth Teaching & Learning Centre, including dedicated incubator space for life sciences companies to engage with researchers and the NHS.

The Glasgow Molecular Pathology Node will integrate laboratory medicine, including pathology and informatics disciplines, which handle and analyse the large datasets that emerge from molecular research. 

Professor Anna Dominiczak, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow, said: “The goal of precision medicine is to provide the right treatment, to the right patient, at the right time, for the right cost and the right outcome.

“We now understand more about abnormalities in DNA and other molecules which occur in disease. 

“This so-called ‘molecular pathology’ is revealing significant variation in diseases which by standard classifications, for example by a pathologist using a microscope, have been indistinguishable.  So, for instance, we now know that pancreatic cancer is not just one disease but many different ones, potentially with different treatments.”

Dr Karin Oien, the lead investigator, said: “Glasgow is central to stratified therapeutic development in the UK and worldwide. Our investigators include global opinion leaders with major roles in international academic studies and industry efforts.

“Our Node will immediately integrate with current and emerging large-scale initiatives such as the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre, the Precision Medicine Catapult, the Scottish Genomes Partnership, Genome England and the International Cancer Genome Consortium, the next iteration of which is focused on clinical delivery, to exploit opportunities provided through these mechanisms, and in turn substantially enhance them.

“Our excellent training in molecular pathology, genetics, informatics and stratified medicine will address national skill shortages and contribute to a workforce capable of developing, undertaking, interpreting, and applying the results of novel molecular diagnostics, across a range of professions and expertise from geneticists, pathologists, clinical and other scientists, informaticians and clinicians across hospital practice and primary care.”

Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman said: “Advances in medical genetics and the use of data are making it possible to design a new generation of 'Stratified' or 'Precision' medicines which work more effectively, with fewer side effects, in more targeted groups of patients. In cancer this is leading to personally-tailored therapies.

“As an integrated healthcare system underpinned by our £1billion per annum National Institute for Health Research expenditure, the NHS is perfectly placed to pioneer this field.

“This £5.4 million investment in projects at the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews will enhance our UK-wide capability to deliver 21st Century diagnostics and complement initiatives such as the Precision Medicine Catapult Centre to make sure that ground-breaking medicines technologies are adopted by the NHS and delivered to patients as quickly as possible.”

Robert Calderwood, Chief Executive of NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, said:  “This is a wonderful opportunity for our staff to work collaboratively with the University of Glasgow and industry partners in this exciting and innovative area of research which will be for the benefit of patients, both within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and across Scotland and the UK.”

Jim Reid, CEO of Sistemic, one of the industrial collaboration partners for the Glasgow Molecular Pathology Node and a Director of the Scottish Life Science Association stated: "This is a great boost for Glasgow and the UK. The formation of these Nodes will act to accelerate the development and translation of a range of molecular pathology products into the clinic and bring undoubted benefit to patients and the health service.

“Additionally, as can be seen from the involvement of a number of SME's including Sistemic, there is the immediate potential to boost local industry and the broader economy. Bringing industry, academic research and the NHS closer together, which will be a key objective of the Pathology Nodes, will provide the ideal environment for the rapid development of health solutions, bring improved patient care and ensure the creation of sustainable economic growth."

Funding for six nodes across the UK was announced, with Glasgow receiving the largest single award.


Media enquiries: stuart.forsyth@glasgow.ac.uk / 0141 330 4831

First published: 27 July 2015

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