Since its creation five years ago, the €8.6m EU funded cross-border Centre for Personalised Medicine led by Ulster University has focused on improving clinical decision making and patient safety for dementia, diabetes, cardiovascular, acute kidney injury and emergency surgery.

Funded by the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), The Centre for Personalised Medicine harnessed a collaborative partnership between 12 academia, health services and industry organisations.

Partners have been working together since 2017 to deliver practical solutions to clinicians to ensure that patients of five of the most prevalent disease areas get the right treatment at the right time.

Personalised medicine moves away from the ‘one size, fits all’ approach, using state of the art genomics testing, technology and computing and intelligence systems to deliver a more targeted approach.

The Centre for Personalised Medicine created five interdisciplinary cross-border research clusters to deliver innovative solutions to solve problem areas associated with significant clinical need and to further commercial potential. The five research clusters were Acute Kidney Injury, Dementia, Cardiovascular, Emergency Surgery and Diabetes.

The objectives of the research clusters were to:

  • Improve the triage of patients with chest pain to allow more appropriate and rapid emergency referral for PCI
  • Identify determinants of outcomes in emergency surgery to improve care pathways and reduce morbidity and mortality
  • Earlier recognition of AKI to reduce mortality, morbidity and hospital stay
  • Improve the self-management of diabetes to reduce unscheduled care episodes and hospital admissions
  • Develop tools which will allow earlier diagnosis of dementia and therefore earlier clinical intervention and support

The interdisciplinary academic and commercial cross-border expertise and collaboration allowed the development of an Emergency Surgery Registry allowing for the world’s first Hospital Emergency Surgery Report, a study exploring the costs of diabetes in Irish Public Hospitals (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34839536/), the development of algorithms to improve the stages of data pre-processing and analytics for dementia diagnosis, prognosis and treatment and care (Accuracy-time_optimisation_with_cost-sensitive_fea (1).pdf).

A retrospective cardiac review revealed that many Percutaneous Coronary Intervention delays are due to unidentified and timely diagnosis of heart attack leading to the development of an online triage form to assist with real time decision making and audit (JMIR Human Factors - Comparing Single-Page, Multipage, and Conversational Digital Forms in Health Care: Usability Study). The development of a cohort of acute kidney and chronic kidney patients to validate commercial chronic kidney insufficiency and Acute kidney injury diagnostic panels.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons commented:

As Minister for the Economy, I understand the importance of partnership and collaboration to deliver the research, the skills and outputs that strengthen our economy and enhance our society. The achievements of the Centre for Personalised Medicine are a great example of that.

By bringing together twelve partners from across academia, the health services and industry, not only from across Northern Ireland but also the Republic of Ireland, and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, the project has not only developed methods to enhance clinical decision making for the benefit of our health service but also contributed significantly to our research expertise and capabilities, which are critical to my vision for a 10X economy.”

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment Leo Varadkar TD commented:

Congratulations to everyone involved in the Centre for Personalised Medicine on reaching this milestone. The project set ambitious goals from the outset, and its success is a testament to the talent, hard work and commitment of all those who have worked on its development. 

Cross-border collaboration is so important, especially in the area of healthcare. We can strengthen our impact hugely by working together and sharing information and experiences. All of the partners in this project should be proud of the results they have achieved so far, which will help will patients in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and beyond.

Highlighting the importance of the project, Gina McIntyre Chief Executive of the SEUPB, said:

There is a real need to improve the cross-border regional capacity for Research & Innovation within the Health & Life Sciences sector.The EU INTERREG VA Programme was specifically designed to address this, and provides support to projects which create new R&I partnerships, or centres of excellence, between academia and business on both sides of the border. 

The Centre for Personalised Medicine is a fantastic example of this and includes partners from across Northern Ireland, Western Scotland and Ireland. By working together they have made hugely significant steps forward in the field of personalised medicine for some of the most common and pervasive diseases. This work will directly benefit and improve the lives of many patients now and in the future. I would like to congratulate everyone involved for their hard work and dedication throughout the project’s delivery,” she continued.

Dr Maurice O Kane, Clinical Director CPM and Consultant Chemical Pathologist in Altnagelvin Hospital commented:

The success of the CPM is a direct result of the collaborative expertise of a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, academic researchers and enterprises. Together, over the past five years we’ve been able to change patient and clinician lives, transforming the approach to personalised medicine and treatment of dementia, diabetes, cardiovascular, acute kidney injury and emergency surgery to improve the care and treatment of patients in the Northern Ireland, the border region of Ireland and Western Scotland.

As the CPM project comes to an end, the research collaboration will continue to produce scientific outputs and are currently seeking additional funding to extend the work of the CPM project.

Professor Liam Maguire, PVC Research, Ulster University commented:

The research collaboration of the Centre for Personalised Medicine has applied personalised medicine approaches to five of the most prevalent disease areas to improve the care and treatment of patients in the Northern Ireland, the border region of Ireland and Western Scotland.  This collaboration extends partnership working to key clinicians in the health sector ensuring that we address real world issues across the five disease areas.