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£11.5m Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine Launched at C-TRIC

Image: Prof Tony Bjourson,  Director, Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine Centre based at C-TRIC (centre) with Health Minister Edwin Poots and Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Health Minister Edwin Poots today announced the opening of an £11.5million clinical research facility in Londonderry which will create 22 high-quality researchposts.

The Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine is based at the University of Ulster and is a collaboration between the university’s Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, C-TRIC (the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre) and the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust).

It will primarily focus on personalised medicine approaches to managing chronic diseases, in essence, tailoring healthcare to individual patients.

It has been offered £5.6 million of support from Invest Northern Ireland, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The Department of Health has offered £1.5 million towards the project with the balance of £4.4 million provided by the University of Ulster.

Speaking at the opening of the centre, Arlene Foster said: “This project will help to establish Northern Ireland as a leader in personalised medicine, where discoveries are moved rapidly to commercial and clinical use. This both enhances health and supports economic regeneration.

“Health and Life Sciences is one of the fastest growing sectors in Northern Ireland and one that will play an increasingly important part in helping to strengthen our economy. This new centre will speed up commercialisation of intellectual propertyfrom our universities, positioning the economy to compete strongly in this high-value sector.”

Stratified medicine is the term given to predicting how groups of patients will respond to a particular therapy and providing personalised treatment for them.

Edwin Poots said: “Providing healthcare for a growing, ageing population is a challenge being faced worldwide. A stratified approach has the potential to develop new treatments and will be a crucial component of the global drive to increase the efficacy, safety and cost effectiveness of disease management.

The centre will further increase collaboration between the private sector, academia and the health service, which has already resulted in successful projects such as the Centre for Functional Brain Mapping at Magee announced earlier this year.”

Commenting on the new centre, Professor Tony Bjourson, University of Ulster, said:

“This Centre aims to develop improved clinical tools that can provide accurate and personalised treatment decisions in chronic human diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. This Stratified Medicine approach to clinical care is amongst the most important concepts to emerge in 21st- century clinical science.”

“Northern Ireland is emerging as an important region within for stratified medicine research and this new centre marks a significant advancement in this strategic research area.”

Dr Maurice O’Kane Chief Executive of C-TRIC and Western Trust head of Research and Development added: “The new centre will facilitate cutting edge and innovative research, speeding up the translation of clinical research into practice that will directly improve healthcare for our patients. The Western Trust is excited that our patients and clinicians will be able to contribute to the centre. The rapid growth in lifestyle-related chronic disease, particularly in our elderly, has seen a large increase in research into interventions to change behaviours, risk factors and environments – but we need to make sure that what we are doing actually works. This centre will allow to us do just that.”