European experts meet in Belfast to discuss healthcare innovation


Experts from across Europe will meet in Belfast this week to discuss collaboration and development in an innovative area of healthcare known as personalised medicine.

Personalised medicine aims to shift treatment from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to one which targets treatments and therapies to the individual needs of each patient, securing better outcomes and more effective prevention.

Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer, said: “Here in Northern Ireland, personalised medicine is an area of substantial and rapidly increasing focus. A growing population with a higher number of older people, poorer health and a growth in chronic conditions are driving the need for the reform of health and social care in Northern Ireland and indeed worldwide, and this week’s conference will enable expertise from across Europe to be shared in how we can deliver more targeted, effective and individual treatment and preventative intervention.

“Personalised medicine aims to provide early and accurate diagnosis and intervention by selecting the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time for each patient. It takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles when tailoring treatments for each person.

“Northern Ireland, through the work of Queen’s University and the Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine, which is a collaborative project between the University of Ulster's Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre and the Western Health and Social Care Trust, is at the cutting edge of personalised medicine research. This is a great opportunity for us to host this conference, which will bring together expertise in this field from across Europe to look at how countries and regions can learn from each other and break down some of the barriers to the adoption of this innovative approach to healthcare.”

The two-day event is being organised by the HSC Research and Development Division of the Public Health Agency (PHA), one of four partners in the Horizon 2020-funded Consortium for Securing the Adoption of Personalised Health in Regions (SAPHIRe), which aims to structure the application and implementation of personalised medicine at a regional level across Europe.

Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director of HSC R&D at Public Health Agency, said: “With Northern Ireland having a record of focusing on the development of personalised medicine, we have been able to help spearhead the SAPHIRe programme, which will identify strengths, needs and barriers to the development and adoption of this type of healthcare, and enable this information to be brought to the attention of governments.

“Some of the leading figures in personalised health from across Europe will come to Belfast to look at how countries and regions across the continent can share experience and ideas and develop stronger relationships to drive forward innovation in this field. We will have policy experts, as well as key figures from academic and healthcare settings, coming together to exchange experiences, with the event providing a forum for discussion of best practice and lessons learned. We will also focus on identifying and assessing future approaches to improve the implementation of personalised medicine.”