Health experts in Manchester and Beijing, China, have joined forces to advance research into genomic medicine – the fastest growing medical speciality and a crucial area of health research.
Leaders from The University of Manchester and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have signed a formal ‘memoranda of collaboration’ with Peking University Health Science Centre (PUHSC). The agreement will pave the wave for large-scale studies and stimulate research in genomic medicine looking at conditions such as cancer, blindness, inherited heart disorders and cleft lip and palate.
Genomics is the study of DNA sequencing and analyses the function and structure of complete sets of DNA within single cells. It is transforming healthcare using new technologies to personalise medicine, improve diagnosis and treat people based on their genetic make-up. Recent successes include Manchester Professor Graeme Black’s new cost-effective genetic test for patients with inherited blindness, based on next generation sequencing, now available in hospitals across the UK.
The Manchester-Peking Alliance will result in training schemes for genetic counsellors, doctors and diagnostic scientists in Manchester and Beijing and regular knowledge-sharing exchanges. It comes as The University and The Trust launch their new Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine which brings together internationally-renowned researchers.
The Chinese delegation from PUHSC, the most prestigious and oldest medical school in China with an academic campus and eight affiliated hospitals, have spent three days in Manchester meeting experts. They had a tour of the North West Embryonic Stem Cell Centre and the Wellcome Trust Children’s Clinical Trials Facility at The Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. They also met Arthritis Research UK’s Genetics Group and the Manchester Biomedical Research Centre team as well as Manchester experts in cardiology and cancer.
Professor Weigang Fang, Vice President for PUHSC, said: “The University and the Trust have the expertise, world-leading minds and the track record in medical education and training to be the ideal partner for PUHSC. We are particularly impressed with the strong partnership between clinicians and doctors in the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre who are working together to develop an effective strategy for the rapid translation of health research into practice. We believe that by working together, we can achieve more than we can alone, and we are certain this partnership is surely mutually beneficial, and we will achieve win-win by sharing each other’s unique advantages.”
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, the President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: “This Alliance will drive forward progress in genetic research to benefit both the UK and Chinese patient populations.”
Mike Deegan, Chief Executive of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Collaboration is key to better understanding and helping to solve some of the world’s most complex and growing health needs. Our Trust is one of the leading genetic research centres in Europe, and we work closely with The University of Manchester. This exciting new joint partnership with the Health Science Centre at Peking University potentially offers significant benefits for our patients, clinicians and researchers.”
Professor Ian Jacobs, Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, added: “Many answers to how we can prevent, accurately diagnose disease and personalise treatments lie in genetic research so it is really important that we are collaborating with our Chinese partners in this important area.
“Knowledge of genetics has opened up exciting possibilities for medical research and thanks to advances in technology it is now feasible to screen an individuals’ DNA rapidly. Working with PUHSC we will be able to conduct large clinical studies using a wider pool of data from our populations.”
The seven Chinese experts were also hosted by Sir Howard Bernstein, Chair of MAHSC and Chief Executive of Manchester City Council and executives from MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency, with a strategic aim to secure significant levels of new investment and employment for the city region.
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The University of Manchester, a member of the Russell Group, is one of the largest and most popular universities in the UK. It has 20 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking pioneering multi-disciplinary teaching and research of worldwide significance. According to the results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, The University of Manchester is one of the country’s major research institutions, rated third in the UK in terms of ‘research power’. The University has an annual income of £807 million and is ranked 40th in the world and fifth in the UK for the quality of its teaching and impact of its research.
Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is a leading provider of specialist healthcare services in Manchester, treating more than a million patients every year. Its eight specialist hospitals (Manchester Royal Infirmary, Saint Mary’s Hospital, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, University Dental Hospital of Manchester and Trafford Hospitals) are home to hundreds of world class clinicians and academic staff committed to finding patients the best care and treatments.
Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC) is a Federation of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, Salford Primary Care Trust (NHS Salford), Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester, enabled by a Company Limited by Guarantee. MAHSC acts to develop an effective shared vision and strategy for the rapid dissemination and translation of health research into practice in Greater Manchester for the benefit the patients and people of Greater Manchester.
Peking University Health Science Center (PUHSC)
Peking University Health Science Center (PUHSC, established in 1912) is the most prestigious comprehensive medical institution in China, recently merged with Peking University which is the leading University in China, ranked 46th in the world by the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings in 2012. PUHSC developed out of National Medical School of Peking, the first national school of western medicine established by the Chinese government through its own efforts. Since its inception in 1912, PUHSC has cultivated a large number of high-level medical and health talents for the country, and has made outstanding contributions to improving the health of the Chinese people.
After merging with Peking University in 2000, various disciplines in PUHSC have been further strengthened, and even integrated to form new disciplines or cross-disciplinary studies. Currently, PUHSC has 5 on campus academic schools, 8 affiliated hospitals, and 13 teaching hospitals. Moreover, PUHSC has two state key laboratory, 29 ministry and Beijing municipal key laboratories, as well as 21 research institutes and 44 research centers at the university level. PUHSC now has an enrollment of 3486 undergraduates, 4048 graduate students and 436 international students.