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The development of a national genomics strategy will begin after the appointment of a new national lead for genomics, this newspaper has been informed. The search for a national genetics and genomics lead began in September. University College Dublin (UCD) is coordinating this campaign. The successful candidate will be appointed Director of the HSE National Genetic and Genomic Medicine Network and UCD/Trinity College Dublin Full Professor of Genetic and Genomic Medicine. A HSE spokesperson told this newspaper the recruitment process has yet to be completed.
“The appointment of a Professor in Genomics Medicine to lead a national genomics network in Ireland is being led by the Chief Clinical Officer and HSE with the universities,” the HSE’s spokesperson told the Medical Independent.
“The recruitment process is still in progress. The appointment of a Professor in Genomics will be responsible to take the lead on the strategy.”
The absence of a national strategy on genomics was a central theme at a recent online conference on bioethics hosted by the Royal Irish Academy (RIA). Speaking at the RIA conference, Prof Orla Hardiman, Clinical Lead of the HSE National Clinical Programme for Neurology, and Consultant Neurologist at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, said this country had been “a little behind the curve when thinking about genetics and genomics”.
However, she added “there is a recognition that we are behind the curve, which is good”.
Prof Owen Smith, Professor of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine, UCD, and Chief Academic Lead, UCD Children’s Hospital Group, told the conference that “we don’t have a white paper or a policy document on genomics and genetics in Ireland. We really need to get that done as soon as possible because genomics is an exponential technology that has come in over the last 15 years or so and the advances are incredible.” See news feature, p10.