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Research strategy and genomics fund announced

Published: 28 Oct 2015 10:30
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Research

Minister opens NHS Research Scotland conference.

Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, Jamie Hepburn has opened the annual NHS Research Scotland conference in Glasgow.

The event showcases the best examples of clinical research across Scotland; bringing together more than 400 delegates to listen, learn and discuss the opportunities and challenges for clinical research now and in the future.

Mr Hepburn used his keynote speech at the Queen Elizabeth University hospital to announce that a Genomic Industrial Catalyst Fund will be launched by Scottish Enterprise. This represents further Scottish investment in genomic medicine – using genetic information to guide the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

With up to £3.5 million for industry-led projects, it builds on Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh investment of £15 million in whole genome sequencing technology and Scottish Government investment of up to £3.5 million to use this technology to help develop genomic medicine in Scotland.

The Scottish Enterprise Fund is open to Scottish and international companies planning to use or work with Scottish genomic sequencing facilities to develop solutions and products to support genomic medicine.

Today's conference coincides with the publication of the Scottish Government's new Health and Social Care Research Strategy – Delivering Innovation Through Research.

Its ambition is to increase the level of high-quality health research conducted in Scotland, for the health and financial benefits of Scotland's population, so that the country is recognised globally as a leader in health research.

The strategy anticipates a future where outstanding health research is embedded within health care systems as core business, generating new knowledge based upon a myriad of qualitative and quantitative evidence. It anticipates a future where the NHS, patients, universities and business work closely together for mutual benefit.

It focuses on four key areas: efficient research and development support; partnership with Scottish patients and the public; targeted deployment of resources; and investing in the future.

Mr Hepburn said:

"This document sets out our ambition for the next five years and how we can support Scotland to be renowned as a health science nation on the international stage."

"Taken together, the aims in this document set out an ambitious agenda for change. They will require new ways of working and a new approach to how we go about our business.

"Today I've also announced the launch of the Genomic Industrial Catalyst Fund. With this and other investments totalling up to £22 million it is clear to see the importance that we place on supporting cutting edge research within NHSScotland.

"This Government will continue to strive to further enhance Scotland's growing reputation as a global centre of excellence for clinical research.

"Bringing more research trials to Scotland will reap benefits for patients, by speeding up the development of new medical therapies and enhancing the health care treatment options that are on offer for patients.

"Continued investment in clinical research can undoubtedly help bring health and wealth benefits to Scotland."

Julia Brown, director of life and chemical sciences, Scottish Enterprise, said:

"The potential market opportunities and health care impacts that may result from genomics research are significant. However, the technical and commercial risks of this research are high, which is why companies require support from Scottish Enterprise to engage and collaborate early in the process.

"Alongside our existing support mechanisms, the newly launched Genome Industrial Catalyst Fund sets out to reduce these risks and help ambitious Scottish and international life sciences companies, right across the supply chain, secure Scotland's place in the genomics revolution."

Notes to editors

NHS Research Scotland (NRS) is a partnership involving Scottish NHS Boards and the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) of the Scottish Government. The overarching aim of NRS is to ensure that NHSScotland provides the best environment to support clinical research. This is achieved through the application of best practice and processes that can support efficient working, as well as providing the infrastructure needed to support all research undertaken in the NHS for patient benefit.

CSO provides funding to NRS to support this aim. More generally, NRS contributes towards a thriving life sciences sector in Scotland, which in turn is critical to the ability of the NHS to deliver world-class health outcomes. One of the initial successes of NRS has been the system of coordinated approval for research, operated through the NRS Permissions Coordinating Centre in Aberdeen.

NRS is working to develop common, simplified systems and mechanisms to support both non-commercial and commercial patient-oriented research.

The efficiencies being delivered through NRS, which is a key priority of CSO's Research Strategy, will continue to be enhanced to improve NHS Scotland's attractiveness as a place to conduct clinical trials.