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Need for Irish ‘genomics strategy’ highlighted at summit

Various speakers at the recent Genomics Summit 2020 in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, highlighted the need for a Government-backed genomics strategy.

Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI) at the event, Prof Owen Smith, Professor of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine, University College Dublin (UCD), and Consultant Paediatric Haematologist at Children’s Health Ireland, Crumlin, said the development of such a strategy was important.

“The way it works in the Irish health system, you need to get the policy-makers to agree; that’s the Department of Health. Once that policy is made, then you can effectively put it in practice at the HSE,” he told MI.

Prof Smith, who addressed the conference, added that with such a strategy, “We can begin to roll-out what we can with genomics medicine or precision medicine to patients.”

“It should be staged; it’s not like we are going to do it for everybody. But… specific groups, like rare disease [groups], cancer groups,” he added.

Prof Smith also told this newspaper the HSE would be seeking a clinical lead in this area in the coming weeks, which would help to progress genomics in Ireland.

“Progress is dependent on the recruitment of a Director for the National Genetic and Genomic Medicine Network,” a HSE spokesperson told MI.

“UCD are leading on the recruitment process.”

While there is a detailed description of the advertised position on the UCD website, it is also noted that the role will be “responsive to change”.

“The ongoing reform programme within the Health Service Executive may impact on this role and as structures evolve, changes in the job description may be necessary,” reads the job description.

The closing date for applicants is 24 February next.

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