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Major MRC strategic award to establish an International Centre for Genomic Medicine in Neuromuscular Diseases

26 July 2018

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UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology leads an international strategic partnership with Newcastle and Cambridge linking across five continents

Professor Michael Hanna has led a successful bid to the MRC for a strategic award to establish a brand new International Centre for Genomic Medicine in Neuromuscular Diseases. The award includes £3.66m from the MRC and £2m from the UCL, Newcastle and Cambridge Universities. In addition staff and resources from international Centres in India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and Zambia will be central to the partnership.

Professor Hanna explained “Our vision is to create a transcontinental genomics research and capacity building partnership between the UK with an initial focus on India, Brazil, South Africa, Zambia & Turkey. We will discover new disease genes, define the genetic variants in known neuromuscular genes, understand comparative genetic architecture in different populations and explore disease mechanisms. We will dramatically increase the number of patients with an accurate genetic diagnosis, build "trial ready" cohorts and ultimately improve health outcomes for patients with this unmet health need drawn from a combined population of over 1.5 billion people. I am delighted that the MRC working with UCL (Institutes of Neurology and Child Health), Newcastle and Cambridge Universities have supported this international initiative with combined support of over £5.5m. I am very pleased to be working with outstanding PIs in each of the international partner centres to ultimately advance genetic diagnosis and therapy for neuromuscular diseases, which affect at least 17m children and adults globally.”

Professor Volker Straub and Professor Sir Doug Turnbull comment “Newcastle University is delighted to be part of this new international partnership in neuromuscular disease research and to extend our longstanding collaboration with Professor Hanna’s team and colleagues from London to Cambridge and collaborators in India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and Zambia. The MRC grant should allow us to increase well defined patient cohorts relevant for clinical trials and to learn more about genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity of neuromuscular diseases. We are very much looking forward to establishing strong partnerships with our colleagues abroad and to harmonize diagnostic approaches that will ultimately benefit a large group of patients.”

Professor Patrick Chinnery lead PI for Cambridge said “ This is a very exciting and ambitious initiative which will take full advantage of the latest advances in next generation sequencing and bioinformatics to benefit patients and train the next generation on a truly global scale”

Professor Alan Thompson, Dean UCL Faculty Brain Sciences comment “Great to see this UK network enabling such a major international initiative in global health, ably led by Professor Mike Hanna’s team at UCL’s Institute of Neurology”

Links to lead centres

MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases

John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre

Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research

MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit

University of Cambridge Department of Clinical Neurosciences

Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, India

Centre for Human Metabolomics, North Western University, South Africa

Hacepette University School of Medicine,Turkey

School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto - University of São Paulo, Brazil

University Teaching Hospital, Zambia


Jun 13 2018

We are delighted to announce that all global partners have signed memoranda of understanding outlining their commitments to this exciting and innovative new initiative to develop a truly International Centre for Genomic Medicine Research in Neuromuscular Diseases to benefit patients in South Africa, Zambia, Brazil, India and Turkey.

Global Centre planning workshop attendees

2 day Workshop: MRC Centre PIs and all LMIC partner PIs Oct 2017

Our Mission is to create a transcontinental genomics research and capacity building partnership between the UK and Official Development Assistance Lower and Middle Income Countries (ODA-LMICs) with an initial focus on India, Brazil, South
Africa, Zambia & Turkey. We will discover new disease genes, define the genetic variants in known neuromuscular genes, understand comparative genetic architecture in different populations and explore disease mechanisms. We will dramatically
increase the number of patients with an accurate genetic diagnosis, build "trial ready" cohorts and ultimately improve health outcomes for patients with this unmet health need drawn from a combined population of over 1.5 billion people.

Our Vision is to deliver a mature transcontinental clinical academic partnership led by a new group of outstanding clinical academics graduated from our training programme. They will be an enduring locally sustained legacy of expertise and they will harness genomics to improve the lives and health outcomes of children and adults with serious  neuromuscular diseases (NMDs).

Memoranda of Understanding: 

Brazil

India 1

India 2

South Africa

Turkey

Zambia 

International Training Fellow Programme:

University of Rochester Letter of Support

Collaborative support for the international genomics medicine programme from UCL Vice Provost International and UCL International office: 

Letter of Support 1

Letter of Support 2