Enhancing treatments for disease and ageing at Phenome Centre Birmingham

Birmingham will be boosted in its efforts to tackle key medical challenges, such as disease diagnosis, identification of the right treatments and improving the health of ageing populations, by the official opening of the Phenome Centre Birmingham today.

The £8m facility, funded by the Medical Research Council, University of Birmingham and industry partners, will allow scientists at the University of Birmingham in collaboration with Birmingham Health Partners to conduct and translate to the clinic metabolic phenotyping studies that will look to:

  • understand molecular mechanisms associated with human ageing, and how diseases develop across the life course into old age
  • identify molecular targets for nutritional, exercise or drug interventions to fight diseases such as diabetes, cancer and arthritis
  • identify metabolic biomarkers that will help in the diagnosis of diseases, and understand how patients will respond to treatment

It becomes the third Phenome Centre to open globally, following the National Phenome Centre in London and the Singapore Phenome Centre. More centres are planned across the world, with a view to creating a network of facilities that will allow for significant advances in studies of metabolism in human health and disease, to benefit the UK and global population.

Thousands of samples of human blood, urine and tissue sample will be measured alongside extensive computational analyses, drawing on the regional strengths of Birmingham; a large and ethnically diverse population, the integrated research and translation available with the Birmingham Health Partners and a leading clinical trials unit.

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman MP said, “This world leading centre will help enhance our understanding of diseases, and potentially allow NHS patients to have more targeted and personal treatment.”

“It also confirms the West Midland’s status as a thriving medical sciences hub, which plays a vital role in supporting the UK’s £60 billion life sciences industry.”

The event was attended by visitors from the Government and the life sciences sector, including Professor Sir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government, who officially opened the centre.

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Professor Mark Viant, from the University of Birmingham, explained, “Metabolic phenotyping really allows us to understand individuals in a way we’ve not been able to before. It will help us to understand how to get the right treatment, to the right patient, at the right time. For Birmingham to be at the cutting edge of this research will be of great benefit to the region and the UK, and something we can all be rightly proud of.”

Dr Rick Dunn, also from the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham, added, “This facility will analyse up to 50,000 human samples each year and will be an epicentre for a wide range of research  to provide benefits in early disease diagnosis through screening and rapid identification of the correct treatment. This is made possible through the state of the art equipment provided by our four industry partners, Beckman Coulter, Bruker, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Waters.”

Notes to editors

For more information please contact Luke Harrison, Media Relations Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0)121 414 5134.

For out of hours media enquiries, please call: +44 (0) 7789 921 165

Image: Professor Mark Viant, Professor Myra Nimmo and Professor Sir Mark Walport