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Ulster University Coleraine welcomed the Minister for Health, Robin Swann, on a visit to the Centre for Genomic Medicine today, to learn more about the University’s commitment to addressing genomic healthcare challenges through its research and civic engagement.

The Centre for Genomic Medicine utilises cutting-edge genomic technologies to better understand the genetic basis of various degenerative diseases, identify individuals at risk and to ultimately improve patient health outcomes.

The Minister of Health was welcomed by Prof Victor Gault, Associate Dean of Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Life & Health Sciences, and Dr Diane Lees-Murdock, Lead for the Centre for Genomic Medicine, to hear about the ongoing work in the centre and the potential of genomic medicine to transform healthcare.  Afterwards, the Minister was given a tour of the University’s state-of-the-art genomics facilities where he met with academics and PhD researchers in the field.

Health Minister Robin Swann has pledged the Department of Health’s commitment to advancing work on genomic medicine in Northern Ireland. In March 2022, the Minister published Genome UK: Shared Commitments alongside the Health Ministers in Scotland and Wales and the Minister for Technology, Innovation and Life Sciences in England. Setting out plans for a Genomics Partnership for NI, bringing together delivery partners from across government and the HSC, public health, industry, research and academia, with patient input, the Partnership will set policy, strategic direction, vision and priorities for genomics for NI.

Speaking of the visit, the Vice-Chancellor said

“At Ulster University,  we believe in our responsibility to use our research to effect meaningful change.  Addressing the genomic healthcare challenges and implementation within the NHS will be a cross-cutting research priority for the Centre for Genomic Medicine in the years ahead, and we look forward to working together with our local community, the Department of Health and other partners to bring about positive change, making Northern Ireland healthier and more prosperous for everyone who lives here.”

On the visit, the Health Minister said:

Northern Ireland has a thriving R&D genomics sector and the work being taken forward by the Centre of Genomic Medicine in Ulster University is a shining example of that. The Centre’s research showcases the innovative thinking taking place at Ulster University, and adds tremendous value to the education and research being carried out at the University, creating a space for interaction between the University and local community stakeholders to address genomic healthcare challenges and support the ongoing work in fulfilling our commitment to establish a Genomics Partnership for NI”.

Dr Diane Lees-Murdock said:

“We were delighted to welcome the newly re-appointed Minister for Health to the University in Coleraine to highlight some of the world-leading work being undertaken at the Centre for Genomic Medicine which has potential to improve outcomes for patients, make a real contribution to inclusive economic growth and aid the implementation of genomic medicine in healthcare practice.  I look forward to continuing working with the Minister and his team to ensure that we continue to see real benefit for NI and the wider UK from this exciting field.”