NHS England picks 100,000 Genomes Project sites ahead of February start date

NHS England has selected the 11 centers that will form the backbone of the 100,000 Genomes Project. Each of the centers will begin recruiting patients with cancer and rare diseases on Feb. 2 and send the samples they gather to Illumina ($ILMN) for sequencing and analysis.

Creating the 11 Genomic Medicine Centres (GMCs) is an important step in the U.K.'s plan to use sequencing data to revitalize its drug discovery sector and improve its healthcare system. Patients enrolled at the GMCs will consent to having their de-identified data shared with drug companies and other researchers. In some cases the results may lead to an immediate change in how the patient is treated, but more far-reaching gains could come from using the data to power drug discovery.

"We want to make the U.K. the best place in the world to design and discover 21st century medicines which is why we have invested in the 100,000 Genomes Project," Life Sciences Minister George Freeman said in a statement. The plan is to combine the centralized, cradle-to-grave medical records held by the National Health Service (NHS) with whole genome sequencing data to create a resource that lures biopharma companies back to the U.K.

The 11 GMCs are the first wave of the project. The NHS plans to create more GMCs at a later date to make it easier for people outside of England's major cities and research hubs to take part in the program. Almost half of the first wave of GMCs are located in the Cambridge-London-Oxford research triangle. The rest are spread across England in cities including Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle upon Tyne.

- read the release
- here's the BBC article