The time for talking about the potential of genomic medicine is past. As England’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dame Sally Davies, writes in her report, Generation Genome:
Genomics is not tomorrow. It’s here today
Genomics will transform patient outcomes and healthcare systems – and NHS England is already moving to make a mainstream genomics medicine service a reality. Realising this potential fully, however, demands more. As the CMO notes, we need to make the leap from genomic medicine as a “cottage industry”’ to genomic medicine on an industrial scale. It may sound obvious, but this transformation can only take place with deep industry partnerships in place.
Kick-starting a UK genomics industry has been a core Genomics England aim from the outset. It recognises that − while NHS England, Genomics England and others build the data resources, infrastructure and systems − it is industry that develops the medicines, treatments and technologies that have such a big impact on patients’ lives.
Clearly, effective industry partnership also has the potential to deliver a boost to the UK’s economic health. The Government’s Industrial Strategy White Paper focuses on the Life Sciences as a growth driver − already bringing £64 billion a year to the UK economy and employing over 220,000 highly skilled scientific staff. Seizing the opportunities of the genomics sector will generate ever-stronger growth.
A catalyst for discovery
Building on learning from earlier industry partnership projects, Genomics England’s Discovery Forummarks an acceleration in our work to consolidate the UK as the global centre of genomic research, discovery and investment.
Fundamentally, the Forum aims to catalyse the entire genomics ecosystem: from small and specialised start-ups all the way through to the big pharma companies. The goal is to align the right companies with the right opportunities. It is a virtuous circle: high levels of investment stimulate the growth of new and existing businesses − which attracts the world’s best research talent − who create the most innovative technologies − which attracts high levels of investment.
We held our first Discovery Forum in November 2017 and the appetite from industry was clear − with more than 120 attendees representing more than 50 companies from the genomics domain. Importantly, and for the first time, investors joined the partnership.
Content focused specifically on areas that industry has identified as important: effective engagement with Genomics England; access to information and research; and maximising the usefulness of the Forum network. Sessions included:
- Progress of the 100,000 Genomes Project;
- Genomics England’s commercial and IP strategy;
- Genomics England’s data and research platforms;
- The NHS genomics environment – presented by Professor Sue Hill, NHS England’s Chief Scientific Officer;
- Understanding how to access research and the work of the Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnerships (GeCIPs)
- Exemplars of work between industry and Genomics England.