Swansea University Medical School launches new Genomic Medicine programme for NHS staff

Swansea University Medical School has launched a new Master’s degree to support NHS staff to understand and use the growing personalised medicine approach - which is changing the world of healthcare.

What is personalised medicine?

Personalised medicine is a revolution in identification, management and treatment of chronic disease and uses an “individual’s genetic profile to guide decisions made in regard to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease." Reaching that goal has been more than 20 years in the making, birthed from an ambitious plan to sequence the first reference human genome. By 2003, scientists had done it for the first time - they had an essentially complete sequence and map of all the genes in the human body.

The new MSc in Genomic Medicine at Swansea University Medical School has been developed to support NHS staff with the knowledge and skills to understand and interpret genomic data and help prepare graduates to be able to develop and deliver personalised healthcare. It is based on the indicative curriculum of Health Education England, NHS England and Genomics England.

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A growing number of researchers, healthcare clinicians, and an increasing number of patients, are calling for a more personalised approach aimed as much at preventing disease as it is at tailoring treatment once it’s there. Call it what you will — personalised medicine, genomic medicine, precision medicine. It’s an approach that emphasises the ways in which your disease risks are unique and different, just like your other, more obvious characteristics. Those disease risks are based on the predispositions written into your genome at birth, combined with your lifestyle and environment. In the case of cancer, the disease has its own genetic makeup, lending each tumor a unique character with unique tendencies and vulnerabilities. And perhaps there is, or soon will be, a drug or treatment or tailored combination of the two that will work better for you than it would for someone else.

"The number of targeted therapies in the pipeline for all diseases is increasing dramatically,” says Professor Keith Lloyd, Head of Swansea University Medical School.

"Personalised medicine in the age of genomics means we’re living in dynamic times. We have developed this new MSc in Genomic Medicine at Swansea to help our health professionals take all this new information being gathered and be able to interpret it and use it for the benefit of the patient.”

Fully-funded places

Dr Torsten Hildebrandt, Consultant Paediatrician at ABMU Health Board has enrolled on the new programme. Dr Hildebrandt said:

"One in 17 people in the UK is affected by a rare disease, 80% of which are genetic in origin. Many of these conditions will be diagnosed antenatally or in the first few years of life.

"The application of genomics medicine will allow more accurate diagnosis, management, surveillance, family counselling and individualised treatment with a significant impact over the lifetime of a child. The MSc at Swansea University Medical School will enable me as a General Paediatrician to stay on top of developments in this field and apply this to the best benefit of my patients and their families."

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Programme director and Associate Professor in Cancer Genetics Dr Claire Morgan said:

“Genomics is an emerging field of expertise, which has major implications for improving and even revolutionising patient diagnosis, treatment, care and public health."As a result, Welsh Government have invested £6.8million in the Welsh Genomic Strategy aimed, in part, at training NHS staff in genomics/precision medicine. Here at Swansea University Medical School  we are excited to be part of helping Welsh Government full-fill their remit by being one of only two Higher Education institutions in Wales, commissioned by the Workforce Education and Development Services (WEDS), to offer an MSc in Genomic Medicine with a number of fully funded places for NHS applicants."

Helen Daniels, who is a Research Officer, has also started studying on the MSc, she added: 

"Genomic medicine research is a fast-growing, dynamic field and absolutely key in improving healthcare. As a researcher to have the opportunity to learn more about this revolutionary approach is incredibly exciting."


To find out more about the MSc in Genomic Medicine please contact programme director Dr Claire Morgan at c.morgan@swansea.ac.uk or call 01792 606543. You can also visit www.swansea.ac.uk/medicine and search the Postgraduate Taught opportunities.