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Improving cancer prediction, prevention and treatment

13 July 2011

Cancer Genetics Building

A new Welsh partnership aims to translate Cardiff’s strength in cancer genetics into improved healthcare for patients.

The Cancer Genetics Biomedical Research Unit has been funded by the Welsh Government’s National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR). It will link the researchers at the School of Medicine’s Cancer Genetics Building with other professional groups in Wales to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

The new Unit will build on the University’s £5M investment in research infrastructure at the Cancer Genetics Building. It will work directly with the NHS Genetics Laboratory to use research findings to improve cancer prediction and prevention. The researchers will also work with clinical teams so genetic analysis can better target treatment through clinical trials and service treatment. The research effort will benefit from genetic technologies developed at the Wales Gene Park and tissue samples made available by the Wales Cancer Bank.

Other partners in the Unit include Bangor University, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Velindre Cancer Centre. They will also be looking to work with commercial partners in the pharmaceutical, diagnostics and genetic technology sectors.

One priority will be building on the top level expertise already in Wales by developing a new generation of scientists with the skills to exploit the huge potential of genetics and genomics to improve cancer care. New post-doctoral fellowships will be established at the University’s Cancer Genetics Building, the School of Biosciences, the Institute of Medical Genetics, the School of Medicine and at Bangor’s School of Biological Sciences. The fellowships will give researchers the chance to build understanding of human cancers and to use the most advanced genetic technology.

Professor Julian Sampson, Head of Genetics, Haematology and Pathology at the School of Medicine, said: "The new Biomedical Research Unit will build on our existing strengths in Wales in understanding the genetic origins of cancer. It will promote collaborative working and deliver research findings which can be used by the NHS and the commercial sector to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. We will also create new posts for highly-talented young researchers with the skills to exploit advances in genetics, ensuring Wales makes a valuable contribution in this vitally important field now and in the future."

The NISCHR’s £1.489M funding for the Unit over the next three years is part of a wider £7M package designed to keep Wales at the forefront of health research. The package also includes £3M to establish the National Centre for Mental Health at Cardiff. Led by Professors Mike Owen and Nick Craddock of the School of Medicine, it will link researchers and professionals in finding new treatments for a range of mental conditions.

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said of the funding package: "This investment will help to cement Wales on the world stage as a place for cutting-edge research and development. It‘s vital that Wales attracts the highest quality research academics, health professionals, students and businesses and to retain that expertise.

"The knowledge gained through a collaborative approach between the NHS and universities will benchmark Wales with the best globally for health and lifesciences research."

Dr Tony Jewell, Chief Medical Officer for Wales, said:

"These investments will make a major contribution to our understanding of a range of common diseases. This in turn will translate into developments in diagnostics and treatments for patients in Wales and worldwide."


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