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Research: Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine

Our research focuses on developing stratified medicine (precision or personalised medicine) diagnostic tools for degenerative diseases.

We focus on diseases that each have a shared genetic, lifestyle or dietary determinants, these include:

  • Hypertension and associated co-morbidities (such as cardiovascular disease and stroke)
  • Diabetes
  • Musculoskeletal Health – Motor Neurone Disease (ALS)
  • Inflammatory disease (including rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Mental health (including Alzheimer's disease and dementia)
  • Cancer (specifically multiple myeloma, prostate cancer)
  • Eye disease (collaboration with Vision Science Research Group)

We are creating a federated degenerative disease biobank of samples with integrated clinical data and robust laboratory measures of genomic, proteomic and metabolomics determinants. This resource aims to facilitate the discovery and validation of biomarkers associated with disease predisposition and response to therapy, and ultimately more effective drugs.

The centres was established in October 2013 by Professor Tony Bjourson by the award of an £11.5 million grant (European Union Regional Development Fund (ERDF) EU Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for N. Ireland, InvestNI,  the Northern Ireland Public Health Agency (HSC R&D), ILEX & Ulster University) .

The research programme currently includes the recruitment of approximately 7000 patients/participants and advanced data analytics associated with their phenotypic and omic data to better inform the diagnoses and treatment of disease (particularly those that share a pro-inflammatory aetiology).

We are located at the Ulster University's C-TRIC facility that is embedded in the Altnagelvin Hospital Campus in Derry~Londonderry. where we work in partnership with clinical staff in the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT).

We engage with regional development agencies and Derry City & Strabane District Council to promote translation of research and promote inward investment in the health technologies sector.

The Centre accommodates over 50 stratified medicine-focused researchers composed of clinicians, molecular biologists and bioinformaticians, and 15 PhD students.

Clinical Research Governance Office

Of strategic importance is the fact that the WHSCT research governance office is located within our C-TRIC facility on the Altnagelvin Hospital site.

This Research Governance Office acts as the coordinating centre for all Northern Ireland research governance permissions and for all multicenter studies coming into Northern Ireland. The WHSCT research approval metrics compare highly favourably with elsewhere in the UK, with 80% of projects approved within 30 days and 100% within 60 days.

The Trust Governance staff located in C-TRIC monitor Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network (NICRN) statistics for efficiency of clinical trial permissions processes and these are among the fastest anywhere in the UK.

Cell & tissue HTA regulated storage capability

Ulster University's BMSRI and the Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine have extensive capabilities in human tissue storage, processing and analyses, utilising a barcoded computerised system compliant with the Human Tissue Act (HTA).

The Unit is managed by a Quality Assurance Officer as a core facility with a dedicated support team with access to

  • Pressure fed Vapour Phase Cryo Storage System with capacity for up to 22,000 samples
  • 1.2 million sample capacity in thirty five -80° freezer units in a dedicated temperature controlled environment utilising item tracker labelling and traceability software
  • AAW WebReact Temperature Monitoring System