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Exeter will join nine other providers in the UK securing the institution’s position as a leader in the field. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Genomics award establishes Exeter as UK leader

The University of Exeter has been named as the latest site to deliver Health Education England’s Masters programme in Genomic Medicine. Exeter will join nine other providers in the UK securing the institution’s position as a leader in the field.

Exeter will collaborate with the universities of Plymouth, Bath and Bristol, as well as the NHS Genomic Medicine Centres in the region, to deliver the masters programme to healthcare staff throughout the South West region.

The programme is designed to support healthcare staff in staying ahead of developments in genomic technologies and information. It will also help them to embed these innovations to transform clinical practice over the next decade. Fully-funded places for both the full MSc course and individual modules are available to eligible healthcare professionals.

Recent advances in genomic medicine mean that scientists can now quickly scan the 3 billion base pairs of genetic code that make up our DNA blueprint. This enables them to find the genomic “misprints” that are the root cause of many diseases. The programme will directly support those involved in the 100,000 Genomes Project, which is gathering samples from 70,000 people nationwide who have a rare disease or cancer diagnosis. It will create a large database in which scientists can look for patterns in misprints in DNA, which is likely to give clues to why diseases occur, and to pave the way for new treatments. There are 13 Genomic Medicine Centres nationally, including one led by the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and one led by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. Both centres will be involved in supporting delivery of the new Masters programme.

Professor Janice Kay, Provost of the University of Exeter, said: “We’re delighted to work with the NHS and colleagues from other universities to offer this programme, which will help transform patient care in the South West and beyond. At Exeter, our research in genomics has been ranked as world-leading, and we can now share our expertise with healthcare workers to help them make the most of this exciting emerging technology. The key to making a real difference is embedding this technology into everyday practice, which will allow us to ensure patients are getting the best treatment, tailored to them specifically. By collecting these genomic samples on a large scale, we expect to uncover the underlying causes of a wide range of diseases.”

Derek Sprague, Health Education England Local Director, said: “We are delighted to have a Genomics MSc provider based in the South West. This perfectly supports our two NHS Genomics Medicine Centres in Exeter and more recently in Bristol. We welcome that Exeter University is keen to forge wider partnerships with local education to deliver this programme and we look forward to building genomics expertise locally in this ground-breaking field.”

The programme will begin in September 2016. To find out how to apply, visit the Genomic Medicine programme page.

Date: 23 March 2016