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Cambridge Science Festival 2019: Nobel Laureate Sir Greg Winter among those discussing healthcare


By Paul Brackley


The UK is leading the world in using whole genome sequencing at scale in healthcare.

Our region has played a leading role in the 100,000 Genomes Project
Our region has played a leading role in the 100,000 Genomes Project

The 100,000 Genomes Project, launched in 2012, was completed in December 2018 and will now be extended to decode the whole genomes of one million people, giving us greater insight into the genetic causes of diseases and how to treat them.

The NHS Genomic Medicine Service embeds genomics into a national healthcare system for the first time, unleashing a new era of precision medicine.

These subjects will be discussed at Cambridge Science Festival by Dr David Bentley, chief scientist at Illumina, and Professor Mark Caulfield, interim chief executive and chief scientist at Genomics England, during the event 100,000 Genomes Project: Transforming Precision Healthcare on March 13.

Professor Caulfield said: “The NHS Genomic Medicine Service is truly unique and world leading, building on the foundations of the pioneering 100,000 Genomes Project.

“The Genomic Medicine Service is the first of its kind where genomics will be embedded into a national health system, and it will transform routine healthcare in the UK.

“Genomics England is thrilled to be working in partnership with NHS England to bring us from 100,000 genomes to one million.”

Granta Park-based Illumina will continue its sequencing role.

Dr Bentley said: “We are inspired by the NHS plans to make genomics a routine part of patient care through a rollout of its Genomic Medicine Service, initially focusing on rare, undiagnosed conditions and cancer.”

Sir Greg Winter at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Sir Greg Winter at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

The event is just one of a plethora at Cambridge Science Festival, which is supported by the Cambridge Independent and runs from March 11-24. Other events include:

 March 8: Should parents have the final say on their child’s medical treatment? Dr Imogen Goold, University of Oxford, explores the scope of parental and judicial power.

 March 12: Coral reefs, malaria and drug discovery. Dr Ellen Nisbet discusses how saving the reefs is helping to cure malaria.

 March 14: How to solve a problem like Alzheimer’s disease: a Cambridge perspective. Dr Will McEwan, Prof Carol Brayne and Dr Timothy Rittman present their work.

 March 14: Written in blood: what can blood cells tell us about health and disease? Professor Emanuele Di Angelantonio explains how blood donors contribute to everyone’s health by taking part in studies.

 March 14: Organ transplantation: past successes, future challenges, with transplant surgeon Professor Mike Nicholson and colleagues.

 March 15: Challenges and ethical considerations of translating health discovery to rural Africa.

 March 18: Nobel Laureate Sir Gregory Winter presents this year’s Gravity Lecture. A molecular biologist, he developed technologies to make therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.

 March 19: Donating tissue: what do people want to know? An informal discussion on the use of human tissue in research.

 March 19: Professor Clare Bryant and a panel of Cambridge immunologists discuss ‘Immunology – the future of medicine?’

 March 20: Tackling brain tumours: addressing one of the hardest challenges in cancer research, with Cancer Research UK researchers in Cambridge.

 March 20: Transforming cancer care, with Prof Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.

 March 21: From steel to stem cells: the future of orthopaedic surgery with Professor Andrew McCaskie.

 March 22: Finding better medicines. On average, it costs over £1billion and takes 10-15 years to bring a new medicine to patients. A panel discusses how collaboration could help.

 March 23: Better than bionic: building better medical implants will showcase The Cambridge Centre for Medical Materials’ drive to produce more natural and functional prostheses and implants.

 March 23: The fine print: towards wearable electronics will discuss how skin-like or epidermal electronics can adhere seamlessly to human skin or even be inserted within the body for health monitoring.

 March 24: Professor Stephen Sutton discusses ‘Can smartphone apps help people change their behaviour?’

 Book at sciencefestival.cam.ac.uk.

Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz. (7665173)
Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz. (7665173)

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