£6m for Scottish Genomes Partnership

Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, Jamie Hepburn has announced a £6 million investment in the Scottish Genomes Partnership (SGP)

The SGP is a collaboration of Scottish Universities and the NHS capitalising on £15 million investment in whole genome sequencing technology by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Scottish Government is contributing £4 million and the Medical Research Council, £2 million.

SGP will be using this technology for genomic research on rare diseases, cancers and Scottish populations, and to work with Genomics England on the diagnosis of patients in Scotland with rare genetic diseases.
“This is a really exciting announcement.  Through our investment in the Scottish Genomes Partnership and the collaboration with the Medical Research Council and Genomics England, NHS Scotland may be able to offer more rapid diagnosis to rare disease patients or a diagnosis where one hasn’t been possible before, improving the lives of patients with these condition” stated Hepburn.

“Allied to our investment in SGP’s genomic research programmes, the new knowledge gained can improve our understanding and help the development of new tests, drugs and treatment strategies for rare diseases and cancers to benefit patients. This investment in cutting edge science can also create new opportunities for research and the life sciences sector, and enhance Scotland’s reputation for clinical research and innovation.”

Professor Tim Aitman, Co-Chair of the Scottish Genome Partnership and Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine said: “This funding creates a unique opportunity to translate the investment of Scottish Universities into immediate healthcare benefits for Scottish patients. The remarkable advances in genome technology over the past five years will now be available to patients in the Scottish NHS, bringing a new dimension of healthcare to Scottish patients with cancer and inherited diseases. We look forward to working with our partners in the Scottish NHS, the Scottish Universities and Genomics England on this landmark project.”

Professor Anna Dominiczak, Vice-Principal and Head of the University of Glasgow’s College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences said: “We are very pleased and proud to be a partner in the Scottish Genomes Partnership, and welcome this further investment into the future of precision medicine in Scotland.

“The SGP will play a significant role within the recently-established Scottish Ecosystem for Precision Medicine, which will co-ordinate clinical, laboratory and informatics resources and opportunities across Scotland.

“Through collaborations like the SGP, and a partnership with Precision Medicine Catapult to lead the National Centre of Excellence, Scotland will be at the forefront of developing cutting-edge precision medicine technologies, with the aim to deliver the right drug for the right patient at the right time.
“We’re extremely proud to playing a leading role in the SGP, and the wider Scottish Precision Medicine Ecosystem.”

Dr Nathan Richardson, Head of Molecular & Cellular Medicine at the Medical Research Council: “We are extremely pleased to be jointly investing with the Scottish Government to help support their ambitions in genomic medicine. This is part of a broader MRC ambition to enhance investment in genome research across the UK and complement our major investment in Genomics England.

“Recent technological advances in genome sequencing alongside developments in assimilating and interrogating vast and complex data sets offers exciting opportunities to better understand disease and improve precision healthcare. It is quite apt that this announcement comes on Rare Disease Day as this new funding embodies our continuing commitment to investigate the root cause human diseases and improve human health.”

Professor Zosia Miedzybrodzka, Professor of Medical Genetics University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian, Chair of Scottish Clinical Genetics Forum said: “NHS Scotland genetics professionals are   delighted that Scottish patients with rare diseases will have the opportunity to benefit from state of the art technology to help to determine the underlying genetic cause of their condition. This will directly help their medical care and that of their families, and will build a knowledge base that will benefit us all.”

Rebecca McEleney from Moray, whose six-year-old son Corey has severe autism, seizures and developmental delay said: “I have fought for years to understand Corey’s disabilities. This project gives us as a family the opportunity to find out the cause of his needs to aid him and future generations.”