UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


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

26 July 2018

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

global meeting

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 Michael Hanna and Professor Henry Houlden 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. We are 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. We are 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 fantastic opportunity to work with partners across the world to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with neuromuscular diseases. The project will capitalise on the most recent scientific advances in genetic diagnosis, and will really make a difference in low-middle income countries across continents. Nothing like this has been done before, and the UK is leading the way.”
Professor Alan Thompson, Dean, UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences comments “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”

This new international initiative is lead by a UCL leadership team drawn from UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology and UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and includes Professors Michael Hanna, Mary Reilly, Henry Houlden, Thomas Voit and Francesco Muntoni.

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