Pioneers of Precision Medicine
At the heart of the drive for increased epidemiological knowledge, faster diagnostics and better-informed treatment decisions are collaborations between medical doctors and analytical specialists. Here, Jeremy Nicholson shares the vision behind the UK’s MRC- NIHR National Phenome Centre, Ron Heeren showcases the new M4I institute and Steven Olde Damink offers the surgeon’s perspective as a new age of healthcare dawns.
Jeremy Nicholson |
Our Phenome Future
By Jeremy Nicholson, Chair in Biological Chemistry and Head of the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London.
I have quite an unusual background in chemical sciences and pathology, which culminated in me becoming the Chair in Biological Chemistry at Imperial College London in 1998. I’m still in that role, but I also became the Head of the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial about five years ago. I’m probably the only non-clinical professor in charge of a clinical department anywhere in the world.
How did that happen? Well, contrary to popular belief, managing clinicians is not necessarily a clinical job – it’s actually about research vision and coordination of scientific activity, especially in such a large department. Notably, the department is more than just surgery and cancer; I also have reproductive medicine, anesthetics, pain medicine, critical care, obstetrics and gynecology, hepatology and gastroenterology all reporting to me in terms of academic structure. And there is a big division in the department called Computational and Systems Medicine, which has about 180 non-clinicians. The MRC-NIHR National Phenome Centre is part of this latter division and took on the legacy of the state-of-the-art drug testing analytical laboratory from the 2012 Olympics games. In July 2013, we repurposed the analytical tools therein for epidemiology-scale population phenotyping.
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