PMF Interviews Dr. Bettina Lundgren, CEO and Managing Director, Danish National Genome Centre

For the next interview in our Nordic Precision Medicine Forum series, we have an interview with the brilliant Dr. Bettina Lundgren.

As the CEO and Managing Director, of the Danish National Genome Centre, Dr. Lundgren has incredible insight into the success of the centre and the Danish Government’s Healthcare system.

Keep reading to see what Dr. Lundgren had to say about the impact the National Genome Centre has had in Denmark, and what needs to be done to ensure the successful implementation of Precision Medicine into the nation’s healthcare system.

Q: In late 2019, an article was released by Denmark’s National Genome Centre that stated that 60,000 patients would benefit from genetic analyses over the next four years. Where is it now a year later, and where do you envisage it will develop from there?

A: Danish National Genome Center has developed a spearhead infrastructure that provides clinicians and researchers across Denmark with access to state of the art whole genome sequencing and analysis on big biomedical heterogeneous data. The infrastructure is tested by clinicians now and will be in operation when the testing is successfully completed. We are very excited to get the infrastructure in operation because of the doctors and researchers eager to use Danish National Genome Center.

Q: The centre was awarded 100million DK by the Danish Government’s national budget in 2017. What has the 100million DK already enabled the centre to achieve in the last three years?

A: The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded DKK 1 billion to kick-start the Danish National Genome Center in December 2019 and pay for the infrastructure of the centre and the first 60,000 genetic analyses. Furthermore, the centre has – as stated above – developed a spearhead infrastructure that provides clinicians and researchers across Denmark with access to state of the art whole genome sequencing and analysis on big biomedical heterogeneous data.

Q: Precision Medicine can be critical for some patients where traditional treatments (e.g. chemotherapy) don’t work for them. How important is the centre for the development of precision medicine?

A: The Danish National Genome Center will support further development of personalised medicine in Denmark with new treatments through the use of knowledge and new technologies. By using genetic knowledge about the disease and the individual patient, the centre supports that doctors can diagnose diseases more precisely and target treatment more accurately.

We have to recognize that not all medicines work for every patient. Some patients, for example with cancer, sometimes have to try out a number of different treatments and may experience a multitude of side effects along the way. With a Danish National Genome Center, we support that is does not have to be this way for these patients in the future.

Q: Denmark’s Ministry of Health work alongside the National Genome Centre to improve healthcare treatments and options for all citizens nationally. What would enable more patients who need a personalised medicine treatment to receive it? What are the current limitations due to national regulations that could impact the development of precision medicine in your region?

A: If the Danish people are to benefit fully from new technologies and other advances, we must collaborate across the nation – both in the healthcare system and the research environment. That is why it has been a major benefit to tie together diagnosis, treatment, research, infrastructure, ethics, and safety through the Danish National Genome Center. However, there is a great demand in research communities in relation to combining different data sources and therefore Danish National Genome Center has a common task together with other stakeholders in relation to the further development of personalised medicine and the use of data.

Thank you to Dr. Lundgren for taking the time to participate in this interview.

To hear more from Dr. Lundgren, join us on November 3 for our first Nordic Precision Medicine Forum when our speakers will be discussing, The Future Direction of Precision Medicine: What We Hope to Achieve and Required Next Steps.

Register for the Nordic Precision Medicine Forum Virtual 2020/21 HERE.

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