Cardiff University’s Wales Gene Park is to partner with three organisations to develop a new £15.3m state-of-the-art genomics facility in the Welsh capital, it was announced today.
Genomics Partnership Wales has been granted Welsh Government approval to develop the centre at Cardiff Edge Life Sciences Park in Coryton.
Wales Gene Park, which is hosted by Cardiff University and funded by Welsh Government through Health and Care Research Wales, will join the All-Wales Medical Genomics Service and the Public Health Wales Pathogen Genomics Unit.
The aim is to “work together to harness the potential of genomics to improve the health, wealth and prosperity of the people of Wales” – and the move means Wales becomes the first UK nation to integrate genomics services in this way.
Dr Andrew Fry, Wales Gene Park director, said: “Welsh Government is making a major investment in the future of genomics in Wales. This is an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurship and to advance precision medicine here.
“Wales Gene Park will be focused on engaging with the public, NHS, companies, and other universities across Wales to maximise the benefits of this development which represents an exciting step for genomics in Wales. This shared vision for research and genomic service delivery will bring many benefits to the health of the Welsh population and our economy.”
Precision medicine seeks to improve outcomes by delivering targeted prevention and tailored treatments to individuals or groups of patients based on specifically defined molecular characteristics. It includes principles of fundamental research, genomics, diagnostics, practices, prediction and products.
Professor Stephen Riley, head of the School of Medicine at Cardiff University, said: “This co-location represents a catalyst for reaching new horizons in clinical research and innovation. The School of Medicine has research and innovation excellence in this area and looks to build further on the opportunity that this brings.”
Approval was granted by Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services, who said: “Wales has established itself at the forefront of genomics services and research and as a government we continue to invest in projects that are improving health outcomes, including developing new genetic tests for cancer services, the Wales Infants and Children’s Genome Service as well as the world-leading SARS-CoV-2 service.
“Genomics Partnership Wales will very much build on this work through co-locating genomics disciplines at the new site, and I am excited to see what this partnership will deliver in the future.”
Len Richards, senior responsible officer for Genomics Partnership Wales, said it would allow Wales to “become internationally recognised as a hot spot for precision medicine”.
Geoff Walsh, Director of Capital, Estates & Facilities at Cardiff & Vale University Health Board, said: “This development, which has been in the planning for a number of years, not only offers the opportunity for true integration of genomics expertise across multiple organisations, but will also ensure crucial capacity for growth and development of this exciting field of healthcare.”
The new development will see the refurbishment of an existing building at Cardiff Edge Life Sciences Park which has been co-designed by members of staff, patients and the public.
It will provide world-class microbiological containment and research laboratories, clinical, seminar facilities, modern office spaces and areas that promote staff wellbeing and is due to open in spring 2022.