Northern Ireland has been awarded a role as one of five UK regional centres of excellence for the delivery of precision medicine.
The centres of excellence will operate across Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, with the hub located in Cambridge.
Speaking about the announcement, Health Minister Simon Hamilton said: "Precision medicine uses diagnostic tests or data to understand a patient’s disease more precisely. Clinicians can then select treatments which are more predictable, safer and more cost-effective.
"My Department and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, have worked together to make the case for Northern Ireland’s precision medicine expertise, drawing on our world class university researchers, clinicians and integrated health and social care system.
"We already have leading companies and expertise operating in this growing field. The award of centre of excellence status recognises the expertise and innovation that exists within our health service and can help ensure that the care we provide to our patients becomes ever more effective"
The headquarters and regional centres of excellence between them are expected to have up to 100 staff once up and running by the end of 2016/17 and to stimulate additional investment by the private sector.
Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said: "Precision medicine is an area of substantial and rapidly growing focus in Northern Ireland. It offers a real opportunity to grow our economy, as well as addressing increasing healthcare requirements.
"The award of centre of excellence status, as well as the success and growth of companies such as Randox Labratories, the Almac Group and Norbrook Labratories in Northern Ireland, demonstrates that we can provide researchers and investors with the infrastructure, skilled workforce and international access necessary to realise the full benefits precision medicine can deliver.
"These benefits range from improved patient outcomes and reduced care costs to the wider economic benefits of a healthier population; as well as high commercial returns by growing our technology and science-led export base."
Notes to editors:
- The UK Catapult programme is run by Innovate UK and aims to transform the UK's capability for innovation in seven specific areas and help drive future economic growth.
- Further information on the Precision Medicine Catapult can be found on the Catapult website
- Media enquiries to DHSSPS Press Office on (028) 9052 0579. Out of office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.
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