A high-level global summit on the emerging scientific field of ‘precision medicine’ has been hosted at Perth Concert Hall.
Experts from around the world flew in to attend the conference on a new form of treating patients – which tailors medical intervention based on individuals’ unique characteristics including genetics and lifestyles.
The event, held on Monday, was co-chaired by University of Glasgow Vice-Principal Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak and Professor David Crossman, Chief Scientist-Health with the Scottish Government.
The summit heard from academics, clinicians and major industry partners and involved high-level discussions on how to ensure Scotland ‘fully capitalises on its current strengths in the field’ and was attended by around 70 representatives of academia, the health professions, business, industry, policy-makers and the Scottish Government.
The centrepiece of the day’s debate was the Science and Innovation Audit Precision Medicine Innovation in Scotland: Accelerating Productivity Growth for Scotland and the UK, which is due to be unveiled in the near future.
This report, commissioned by the UK Government and led by the University of Glasgow, sets out in detail the ways in which Precision Medicine can lead to better outcomes for patients, potentially save billions of pounds for the NHS and contribute strongly to economic growth and job creation in Scotland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who attended the event, said: “Scotland has all of the potential to be a world leader in developing precision medicine. I saw that back in April when I visited Hong Kong and China. I spoke to a number of companies there about precision medicine, and they showed real interest in the Triple Helix – the three key strengths which Scotland has to offer.
“First, there’s the quality of our academic research. We lead every other part of the UK in attracting research and development projects. And our universities boast particular specialisms in the areas most relevant to precision medicine – such as genomics, data and informatics, and clinical medicine.
“Second, Scotland is more successful than any other part of the UK in setting up businesses to commercialise our research. That’s one of the reasons why we have such a thriving life sciences sector. Scotland is home to more than 700 life sciences companies – and over 200 of them are involved in precision medicine.
“Third, our single unified health service – NHS Scotland – maintains healthcare data of unparalleled quality. For example, through our Community Health Index we have a comprehensive source of patient, clinical and demographic information – covering a population of over 5 million people. As precision medicine is data-driven – and depends on information about patient genetics, environment, and lifestyle – that’s a huge asset. And – together with our academic and industrial strengths – it’s one on which we’re absolutely determined to capitalise.
“The Precision Medicine work undertaken by the University of Glasgow and the eco-system centred around the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital are key assets for Scotland’s Precision Medicine ambitions, and will be vital as we seek to capitalise on our current position, and cement ourselves as the international leaders in the field.”
Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow said: “Scotland’s Precision Medicine Summit has been a historic opportunity for the health sector in Scotland to speak with one voice – with government, academia, industry and our NHS coming together to declare our intention that Scotland will lead the world in Precision Medicine, an industry projected to be worth $134bn by 2025.
“We stand on the brink of leading a genuine revolution in how we practise medicine – promising not just better outcomes for patients, but upwards of £70bn in savings for the NHS, contributing to inclusive economic growth and supporting thousands of new jobs in Scotland.
“The commitment the Scottish Government has already demonstrated over the last few years has put Scotland in pole position to lead the way – and the progress we have made at this historic summit has put not just international leadership but a transformation in health treatment well and truly within our grasp.”