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Precision Medicine Centre of Excellence

HSC R&D Division contributes funding (along with InvestNI and Queen's University Belfast) to support the NI Precision Medicine Centre of Excellenc (QUB website).

Precision medicine (also referred to as personalised or stratified medicine) aims to provide early and accurate diagnosis and select the right drug, at the right dose at the right time for patients. It aims to take into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles when prescribing medication to treat disease. One of the cornerstones of achieving success in precision medicine is to identify biomarkers which are measurable and characteristic to the patient and can be used to predict response to treatments. This will allow potentially costly drugs to be used more effectively by being prescribed only to those that can benefit from them.

There is intense interest in the precision medicine approach to treating cancer, partly because current treatments such as chemotherapy affect normal as well as cancer cells leading to unacceptable side-effects, but also because knowledge of the genetic make-up of cancers is developing so rapidly.  Precision medicine can also help avoid side-effects by restricting interventions to specific molecular targets in cancer cells, so minimizing ‘collateral damage’ to healthy cells.

The creation of a Centre of Excellence (COE) in precision medicine focussing on diagnostic and biomarker validation aims to support the growth of the precision medicine industry in the Northern Ireland with two main objectives:

  • To establish an internationally accredited infrastructure which will allow biotech sector access to biomarker discovery and validation service.
  • To establish a clinical implementation group with the aim to accelerate adoption of validated biomarkers and diagnostic solutions within the Regional Health and Social Care (HSC) Trust.

The HSC R&D Division investment will predominantly support the “adoption of new diagnostics” within clinical care pathways. Specifically, the funds invested will support the recruitment of new posts, sustaining a critical mass of specially-trained clinical and laboratory staff skilled in Genomics, Informatics, and Molecular Diagnostics. 

Click here to see QUB press release>

Click here to read about funding to QUB to advance the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in cancer diagnosis and precision medicine>