For the end of 2012 UK researchers have received a really nice Christmas present. George Osborne, the UK finance minister, announced an investment of £600 million ($963 million) to sustain the Medical Research Council as well as facilities for applied research and development (as reported by the Nature News blog).
The Government has earmarked £100 million:
- to train a new generation of British genetic scientists to lead on the development of new drugs, treatments and cures, building the UK as the world leader in the field. And train the wider healthcare community in harnessing this technology;
- to pump-prime DNA sequencing for cancer and rare inherited diseases;
- to build the NHS data infrastructure to ensure that this new technology leads to better care for patients.
The Prime Minister's Office said that the genome sequencing will be entirely voluntary. Patients will be able to opt out of the sequencing, and the DNA data will be anonymized except when it is used in the context of a patient's individual care. The NHS will explore a number of ways to store the data, and it plans to make patient privacy and confidentiality an important factor in the decision about which platforms and technologies it will use.
To promote the initiative, the Prime Minister David Cameron popped by the genomics core facility at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute (see the news here), where he kicked off the run to demonstrate how easy sequencing has become (to be honest, cartridge and flowcell have been prepared by the lab, so basically it was all about pushing some buttons...). However the visit of the Prime Minister and the funding announcement was an exciting event, as reported in the CoreGenomics blog by James Hadfield, who runs the lab.