First NHS Genomic Medicine Centres announced

22 December 2014

Genomics England has announced the first eleven new designated Genomic Medicine Centres (GMCs).

The GMCs will deliver the main phase of the 100,000 Genomes Project, starting from February 2015 and reported to involve 75,000 individuals ‘which will include some patients with life threatening and debilitating disease’. Others will be family members of rare disease patients.

The new NHS GMCs are:

  1. East of England led by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  2. South London led by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
  3. North West Coast led by Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust.
  4. Greater Manchester led by Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  5. University College London Partners led by Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  6. North East and North Cumbria led by The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  7. Oxford led by Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust
  8. South West Peninsula led by Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust
  9. Wessex led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
  10. Imperial College Health Partners led by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  11. West Midlands led by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

All of the GMCs will recruit patients with both rare diseases and cancer except for the North East and North Cumbria NHS GMC, which will recruit only rare disease patients and families. Additional GMCs are expected to be created in due course ‘to ensure that there is comprehensive coverage across the NHS in England’.

Genomics England’s Chief Scientist Professor Mark Caulfield said: “For patients with rare diseases, we hope to help with diagnoses, for cancer patients we hope the programme will help to target medicines more appropriately and for infectious diseases it may help to generate new opportunities for therapies for these diseases”. 

Welcoming the news, British Society of Genetic Medicine chair Angela Douglas, commented: "The challenge of the project will be to embed its outcomes into routine health practice”. Prof Caulfield was keen to emphasise that rapid uptake of findings back into mainstream healthcare was a key goal for the project, but as yet little has been revealed as to how this will be achieved.

A new report from the PHG Foundation, Realising Genomics in Clinical Practice,  sets out important policy recommendations based on extensive development work with key UK stakeholders including the patient, clinician and laboratory scientist communities.

Alison Hall, Programme Lead (Humanities) at the PHG Foundation said: “These recommendations are a plan of action for implementing genomic sequencing technologies in an ethical and responsible way in the NHS”.

“Unlike the 100,000 Genomes Project, which is concerned with research, the Realising Genomics recommendations focus on clinical care, though there are significant synergies between the two initiatives. Whilst it is possible that some of our recommendations might be addressed by the Genomic Medicine Centres and through research that will be undertaken by the Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnerships, independent initiatives are also likely to be necessary”.

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