Genomics and precision medicine are currently at the cutting edge of medical technology and promise a world in which treatments can be more targeted and effective. Because of this promise, the NHS and the government are investing heavily in this technology and have launched the NHS Genomic Medicine Service which will harness these advancements for the benefit of patients. The service has committed to roll out genome sequencing, to offer molecular diagnostics and genetic testing to people with cancer, and to support better data linkage for more effective treatments.
There is a risk, however, that these advances could leave behind those communities who already experience ethnic health inequalities. We know that ethnic minority groups are under-represented in medical research and in genomic biobanks. If we are to ensure that genomic medicine works for everyone, there are two key priorities we must engage with now – ensuring that research is conducted in diverse populations with a range of ancestral backgrounds; and ensuring that the medical advances that result from this research is available for all.
Academic general practitioner, Dr Veline L’Esperance, has been appointed as a Clinical Advisor to the Observatory focussing on ethnic and racial inequalities relating to genomics and precision medicine. Thus far we have commissioned the follow pieces of research as part of this workstream: