First Minister leads historic summit on Precision Medicine

Published: 10 September 2018

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, led an historic summit on Precision Medicine.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday, 10 September, convened industry, academic and clinical experts in Precision Medicine from across Scotland and across the globe, bringing together the sector to declare its intention to lead the world in this exciting new development.

Scotland’s Precision Medicine Summit, which was held in Perth, was co-chaired by University of Glasgow Vice-Principal Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak and Professor David Crossman, Chief Scientist-Health with the Scottish Government. The summit heard from academics, clinicians and major industry partners and involved high-level discussions on how to ensure Scotland capitalises fully on its current strengths in the field.‌pmsummit

The centrepiece of the day’s debate was the Science and Innovation Audit Precision Medicine Innovation in Scotland: Accelerating Productivity Growth for Scotland and the UK, which is due to be unveiled in the near future. This report, commissioned by the UK Government and led by the University of Glasgow, sets out in detail the ways in which Precision Medicine can lead to better outcomes for patients, potentially save billions of pounds for the NHS and contribute strongly to economic growth and job creation in Scotland.

The First Minister said: “Scotland has all of the potential to be a world leader in developing precision medicine. I saw that back in April when I visited Hong Kong and China. I spoke to a number of companies there about precision medicine, and they showed real interest in the Triple Helix – the three key strengths which Scotland has to offer.

“First, there’s the quality of our academic research. We lead every other part of the UK in attracting research and development projects. And our universities boast particular specialisms in the areas most relevant to precision medicine – such as genomics, data and informatics, and clinical medicine.

“Second, Scotland is more successful than any other part of the UK in setting up businesses to commercialise our research. That’s one of the reasons why we have such a thriving life sciences sector. Scotland is home to more than 700 life sciences companies - and over 200 of them are involved in precision medicine.

“Third, our single unified health service – NHS Scotland – maintains healthcare data of unparalleled quality. For example, through our Community Health Index we have a comprehensive source of patient, clinical and demographic information – covering a population of over 5 million people. As precision medicine is data-driven – and depends on information about patient genetics, environment, and lifestyle – that’s a huge asset. And – together with our academic and industrial strengths – it’s one on which we’re absolutely determined to capitalise.

“The Precision Medicine work undertaken by the University of Glasgow and the eco-system centred around the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital are key assets for Scotland’s Precision Medicine ambitions, and will be vital as we seek to capitalise on our current position, and cement ourselves as the international leaders in the field.”

Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow said: “Scotland’s Precision Medicine Summit has been a historic opportunity for the health sector in Scotland to speak with one voice – with government, academia, industry and our NHS coming together to declare our intention that Scotland will lead the world in Precision Medicine, an industry projected to be worth $134bn by 2025.Prof Dame Anna Dominiczak at the Precision Medicine Scotland Summit

“We stand on the brink of leading a genuine revolution in how we practise medicine – promising not just better outcomes for patients, but upwards of £70bn in savings for the NHS, contributing to inclusive economic growth and supporting thousands of new jobs in Scotland.

“The commitment the Scottish Government has already demonstrated over the last few years has put Scotland in pole position to lead the way – and the progress we have made at this historic summit has put not just international leadership but a transformation in health treatment well and truly within our grasp.”

As well as keynote addresses from the First Minister and Dame Anna, the summit heard from experts from across academia and industry, including President of the US National Academy of Sciences, Professor Victor Dzau; Dr Ken Sutherland, President of Canon Medical Research Europe Ltd; and Jeane Freeman, Cabinet Secretary for Health.

It has been estimated that the implementation of Precision Medicine could see the financial burden of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and musculoskeletal issues reduced by £73bn over the next 50 years.

The global Precision Medicine market value was estimated at around $43bn in 2016 and is projected to rise to around $134bn by 2025.

Scottish Enterprise estimate that there are around 230 companies already undertaking Precision Medicine activity in Scotland.

First published: 10 September 2018