News story: Eleven new centres to lead genomics project

News story

Eleven new centres to lead genomics project

Department of Health1

First published:
22 December 2014

Part of:

Increasing research and innovation in health and social care2, National Health Service3 and Science and innovation4

Eleven new centres across England have been chosen to deliver the 100,000 Genomes Project.


The 3-year project, launched by the Prime Minister earlier this year, aims to improve diagnosis and treatment for patients with cancer and rare diseases.

The initiative involves collecting and decoding 100,000 human genomes complete sets of people s genes that will enable scientists and doctors to understand more about specific conditions.

The project has the potential to improve our ability to predict and prevent disease.

It may also lead to new and more precise diagnostic tests, and the ability to more accurately personalise drugs and other treatments to specific genetic variants.

It is anticipated that over 75,000 people will be involved, which will include some patients with life threatening and debilitating disease.

After samples are collected, they will be sent securely to Illumina who have been procured by Genomics England to sequence the whole genome and to analyse it.

Results will be sent back to the NHS for validation and clinical action.

The 11 designated Genomic Medicine Centres (GMCs) in this first selection process are based across the country covering areas including Greater Manchester, the North West coast, Oxford, Birmingham and the West Midlands, Southampton, London, Cambridge and the East of England, Exeter and the South West Peninsula, and the North East.

Over the lifetime of the project NHS England s ambition is to secure more than 100 participating NHS trusts.

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman said:

Our understanding of genomics is transforming the landscape for disease diagnosis and medicines research.

We want to make the UK the best place in the world to design and discover 21st century medicines which is why we have invested in the 100,000 Genomes Project.

We also want to ensure NHS patients benefit which is why we have now selected NHS hospitals to help us sequence genomes on an unprecedented scale and bring better treatments to people with cancers and rare diseases for generations to come.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England s National Medical Director, said:

This is an achievable ambition which positions Britain to unlock longstanding mysteries of disease on behalf of humankind.

Embracing genomics will position us at the forefront of science and make the NHS the most scientifically advanced healthcare system in the world.

This is the start of a unique, exciting journey that will bring benefits for patients, for the NHS and for society at large.

Professor Sue Hill, the Chief Scientific Officer for England, who chaired the team evaluating the various applicant GMCs said:

The NHS has risen to both the challenge and opportunity of delivering its contribution to the 100,000 whole genomes project in the most extraordinary and unparalleled way.

Locally in the NHS, there has been clearly demonstrated engagement and involvement of senior managers, clinical teams, clinical genetic and molecular pathology laboratories and critically patients and the public, all committed to using the science of whole genome sequencing to making a real and lasting difference for patient benefit.

Professor Mark Caulfield, Chief Scientist at Genomics England

The creation of the new NHS Genomic Medicine Centres will play a key role in bringing together researchers, NHS clinicians and trainees to work on whole genome data that has never been collected on this scale before.

We have a clear goal of accelerating the findings from the programme back into mainstream healthcare at the fastest possible pace, meaning more rapid results for patients.

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China will not go to war for North Korea: former general

China will not step in to save neighboring North Korea if the Pyongyang regime collapses or starts a war, a retired People’s Liberation Army general said, possibly signalling waning patience in Beijing with its wayward, nuclear-armed ally.

“China is not a savior,” Wang Hongguang, formerly deputy commander of the Nanjing military region, wrote in the Global Times newspaper, which is close to the Chinese Communist Party.

“Should North Korea really collapse, not even China can save it,” he said.

Wang’s comments came in a contribution to the nationalist tabloid’s Chinese-language website.

The outspoken Wang has made critical comments about North Korea before and it was not clear whether his words indicated a policy shift regarding Pyongyang.

China has long been the isolated North’s key ally and aid provider.

Beijing came to the fledgling country’s aid during the 1950-53 Korean War, when its intervention against US-led United Nations forces defending South Korea helped seal an eventual stalemate that has lasted to this day.

China’s role has grown as the North’s economy has shrunk in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union almost a quarter of a century ago, with which Pyongyang had close trade and aid ties.

But over the same period Beijing has moved to develop diplomatic relations and booming trade ties with Seoul, Pyongyang’s bitter rival. Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye have exchanged visits, while Xi and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un have so far kept their distance.

Wang said China would not get involved in any new war on the Korean peninsula.

“China cannot influence the situation on the Korean peninsula,” he wrote.

“China has no need to light a fire and get burnt,” he added. “Whoever provokes a conflagration bears responsibility.

“Now there is no more ‘socialist camp’. It is not necessary for China’s younger generation to fight a war for another country,” he wrote in the comments, published Monday.

Wang criticized the North for its nuclear development, using it as an example of how its interests can differ from China’s and saying it had “already brought about the serious threat of nuclear contamination in China’s border area”.

But he also slammed Western countries for what he described as “demonizing” North Korea and interfering in its internal affairs in the name of human rights.

“China absolutely does not meddle,” he wrote.

Beijing will “support what should be supported and oppose what should be opposed” regarding the North, he said, indicating China was not ready to completely give up on its troublesome neighbor.

China will neither “court” nor “abandon” North Korea, he wrote. “This should be China’s basic attitude.”

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Press release: Rail electrification plan for Lake District

Press release

Rail electrification plan for Lake District


Department for Transport1 and Baroness Kramer2

First published:
28 November 2014

Part of:

Expanding and improving the rail network3, Transport4 and UK economy5

Government to confirm 16 million funding to electrify 10 mile route between Oxenholme and Windermere.


Passengers in the Lake District can look forward to faster, greener and more reliable train journeys as Transport Minister Baroness Kramer confirms 16 million of government funding to electrify the Windermere branch line in Cumbria today (28 November 2014).

The 10 mile line, which runs between Oxenholme Lake District station on the West Coast Main Line and Windermere station in the National Park, will be upgraded to allow electric trains to run on the route.

Once completed, the line will form part of a direct electrified route between key destinations in the region, including Kendal, Burneside and Staveley, and Manchester.

Baroness Kramer said:

Electrifying this key rail link will support the vital tourism industry in the area, and help us build a stronger economy in the Lake District and beyond.

We are committed to building a world-class rail network.

Over the next 5 years, more than 38 billion will be spent on improving and running the system, with schemes like this helping to provide better services for passengers across the UK.

The work will be carried out by Network Rail as part of its electrification programme across the north.

Network Rail will now develop a detailed plan for the work, which could be completed as early as 2017.

Other routes being electrified include Manchester to Liverpool, Preston, Leeds and York, and Preston to Blackpool.

The National Park environment and the value of visitors using the railway will be taken into account as the work in the Lake District is carried out.

David Golding, Strategic Planner at Network Rail, said:

Confirmation of this funding is great news and will support the retention of direct services between Manchester to Windermere, as the rest of the route is electrified.

Once complete, electrification will enable a faster, more reliable rail service.

This is part of a wider investment by Network Rail in the electrification of key routes between towns and cities across the north of England.

Chris Nutton, First TransPennine Express Programme Director, said:

We are absolutely delighted that the Department for Transport has announced that the line between Oxenholme and Windermere will be electrified in the near future.

First TransPennine Express has worked with local representatives and Network Rail to develop a solid business case in relation to the improvements.

We recognise the importance of rail connectivity across the regions and this line electrification is part of an unprecedented level of investment of the railway in the north.

It is great news for the region and the local economy and will ensure that the southern lakes remain an important and accessible tourist destination.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in lobbying for and achieving this significant investment.

Rail media enquiries

Press enquiries
020 7944 4671

Out of hours
020 7944 4292

Public enquiries
0300 330 3000

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28 November 2014
Department for Transport8
Baroness Kramer9

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