15 December 2014
Government minister George Freeman MP has told a meeting of the Society of Biology that his mission is to reform the biomedical sector and refocus it around personalised medicine.
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Life Sciences, who works across both the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health, has responsibility for life sciences and NHS innovation. His professional background is in the commercial biotech sector.
He told the meeting that as the first minister for life sciences it was also his intention “not to be the last”, saying that the biomedicine was crucial to the UK’s economic recovery and that it was supported by the three pillars of food, medicine and energy.
With respect to personalised medicine, he said: “The new landscape is about using deep insights from informatics and genomics to allow us to target much better and build treatments around patients. And to put medical science back into hospital, where it originally was”.
Informatics and genomics were emphasised as being ‘transformative health innovations’. This was said to require a policy framework that reoriented the sector to be patient-centric, as well as delivering more for less and contributing to the UK’s knowledge economy.
The minister has also said that technological progress is ‘driving rapid convergence of drugs, devices and diagnostic technologies’, creating new opportunities both for industry and medicine, especially in and around London, Cambridge and Oxford.
These statements are in line with the wider government plans to use create closer links between the biomedical research and health sectors. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said earlier this month: “the NHS can also attract jobs to the UK by playing a pivotal role in our life sciences industry”, pointing to the Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnerships linked to the 100,000 Genomes Project.
The ‘four pillars’ of future health service funding in the UK were said by Mr Hunt to be a strong economy, a renewed focus on prevention, embracing innovation and improving efficiency, and a culture shift towards patient-centred models of care.