Prof. Mark Caulfield. Co-director of William Harvey Research Institute (WHRI)/Centre Lead for Clinical Pharmacology, United Kingdom (UK) delivered a Distinguished Lecture on the topic The 100,000 whole genome sequencing project at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) on 3rd February 2015. Prof. E Haribabu, Vice-Chancellor presided.
The 100,000 Genomes Project is not simply a research project, nor is it a new way of caring for patients, or a transformation project to use genomic medicine to change how patients are treated in the National Health Service (NHS), UK. It is all of these things. To sequence 100,000 genomes over four years is immensely ambitious and has never been done on this scale anywhere in the world before. The project is focusing on patients with rare diseases, and their families, as well as patients with common cancers. The project is currently in its pilot phase and it is expected that a lot will be learnt during this time to inform the next stages.
Speaking to a packed audience of students, faculty and staff at the School of Life Sciences auditorium, Mark Caulfield gave an account of the research carried out by the team on Hypertension and Cancer. He stated that one of his team members has proved that a daily intake of 250ml of beetroot juice has the same effect on lowering blood pressure that a medicine does. He further adds that the potential of genomics to improve healthcare is huge and by providing better insight into the cause of diseases and how diseases develop in each individual, genomics can be used to make medicine more tailored and personalised, minimising unwanted side effects.
Caulfield stated that there are significant benefits for patients with a rare disease, many of whom currently have no formal diagnosis. For them, whole genome sequencing can increase the chances of diagnosis – other genomic studies have provided diagnoses in 30-95% of patients. Genomics also has an important role to play in the tracking of infectious diseases. It can help in understanding how infections spread and in many cases allow the pinpointing of the source and nature of an outbreak, added Caulfield.
Mark Caulfield graduated in Medicine in 1984 from the London Hospital Medical College and trained in Clinical Pharmacology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital where he developed a research programme in molecular genetics of hypertension and clinical research. In 2009 he won the Lily Prize of the British Pharmacology Society. . In 2000 he successfully bid for £3.1M to create the Barts and The London Genome Centre which now underpins over 40 programmes of research. Since 2008 he directs the Barts National Institute of Health Research Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit. He was appointed Director of William Harvey Research Institute in 2002 and was elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2008 and was President of the British Hypertension Society (2009-2011). He led on fundraising towards the £25m William Harvey Heart Centre which created a translational clinical research centre. He served on the NICE Guideline Group for hypertension and leads the Joint UK Societies’ Working Group and Consensus on Renal Denervation.
Prof. P Reddannah, Dean-School of Life Sciences introduced the speaker while Prof. B Senthilkumaran, Head, Department of Animal Biology proposed the vote of thanks.