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Cardiff recognised as centre of excellence for ‘precision medicine’

24 February 2020

PET scan image of the brain

Cardiff has been recognised as a centre of excellence for precision medicine by Innovate UK, part of the national research funding agency, UK Research and Innovation.

Cardiff University, along with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, NHS Wales partners and the Life Science Hub, attended the launch of the Network of Centres of Excellence of Precision Medicine last month. The event was organised by UKRI’s Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

KTN defines precision medicine as “technology that enables early and accurate diagnosis to inform patient treatment, as well as the availability of targeted therapies”. This includes combining clinical biomarker knowledge with advances in diagnostic imaging technologies, data analysis and advanced therapies.

Precision medicine is also commonly referred to as stratified or personalised medicine and has the potential to transform healthcare by developing greatly improved clinical diagnostics and targeted treatments.

Cardiff University and its partners have a wide portfolio of multidisciplinary research in precision medicine, including in imaging, artificial intelligence (AI), clinical diagnostics, diagnostic biomarker technologies, genomics, advanced therapies and data science, as well as having strong links with clinical and business partners.

The Network comprises six regional founder centres of excellence - Cardiff, Belfast, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Oxford - who joined the event to present and celebrate the impact of these centres in promoting innovation in this field.

Additionally, the centres have provided opportunities for academics, businesses and healthcare providers to work together to accelerate development of precision medicine for health and economic benefit.

Precision medicine group from Cardiff University
Left to right: Dr Emiliano Spezi, School of Engineering, Elen de Lacy, Life Science Hub Wales, Dr Corinne Squire and Professor Ian Weeks, School of Medicine, Dr Penny Wilson, Innovate UK, Giulia Boselli, Knowledge Transfer Network and Clive Morgan, Cardiff & Vale University Health Board

The event, held at Chelsea Football Club Conference Centre on the 30 January, was attended by Professor Ian Weeks, who was recently awarded an OBE for Services to Knowledge Transfer and Medical Innovation.

Also in attendance were members of the Clinical Innovation Partnership, Cardiff University (Schools of Engineering and Medicine) and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. Exhibiting at the event were Life Science Hub Wales, Health Technology Wales and Genomics Partnership Wales.

Their presentations highlighted some of Cardiff’s key facilities and areas of expertise in precision medicine. For example, advances in AI, machine learning and image analysis were described, focusing on novel techniques now being used in trials at Velindre Cancer Centre to guide cancer treatment.

Also highlighted was work on multiplex biomarkers and machine learning to enable early and accurate diagnosis of infection, allowing patients to be treated more effectively. A further presentation described the progress made within NHS Wales in introducing a Wales-wide system for digital pathology and the establishment of Genomics Partnership Wales.

The presentations also highlighted the unique facilities which contribute to an excellent environment for precision medicine in the region such as CUBRIC (Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre), PETIC (Positron Emission Tomography Imaging Centre) the National Imaging Academy Wales and the capabilities in data science and federated learning that is important in handling large amounts of medical data.

Cardiff’s participation in this network of centres of excellence supports the aims both of the UK’s Industry Strategy White Paper and the Welsh Government’s recent Written Statement on Precision Medicine.

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