We were delighted to be invited to give evidence to House of Commons Science and Technology Committee for the My Science Inquiry.
With over 90 organisations submitting ideas for inquiries and 6 invited to pitch in person we were pleased to be selected to present to the committee. Professor Louise Jones, Chair of the Genomics and Reproductive Science Committee, presented on behalf of the College on ‘Delivering genomic/personalised medicine in the UK’.
Whilst our pitch was not chosen as the successful presentation to take forward, the presentation raised awareness of genomics and the committee may decide to recommend further action. You can watch the presentation on the live streamed session on the parliament website - Prof Louise Jones's presentation is at 10.14am on the recording. The committee decided to develop and launch an inquiry into the use of bacteriophages as an alternative to antimicrobial drugs.
Professor Jones’s presentation looked at genomic medicine and how we are going to implement that across the UK. Genomic medicine is probably the most important innovation in medicine that we have had since the discovery of penicillin and will impact every aspect of clinical care: diagnosis, treatments, prevention and screening strategies for multiple disease types.
The pitch highlighted the challenges in rolling out genomic medicine:
- The knowledge gap. We need evidence and information about the level of that gap and how to deal with it.
- The need to develop education and a workforce to deliver genomic medicine. This is particularly acute in pathology, because pathology is central to delivering on testing. We need to understand, to recognise and to address that.
- Logistical challenges. This affects pathology, particularly in the field of cancer. When tissue is removed it is placed in a preservative, which allows us to move it around. We cannot carry out genomic technologies on that tissue. We have to have fresh tissue, which is an enormous challenge. There are other technologies, and we should be examining that evidence to see whether we can implement those.
- Engagement with the public. We believe that we need to engage and educate the public, to get them to collaborate with us on the genomic medicine service to deliver its potential so that we are able to lead a world-leading genomic medicine service within our NHS.