Advanced diagnostics, genomics and precision medicine

Our membership scheme is designed to deliver four West Midlands-specific priorities, including advanced diagnostics, genomics and precision medicine.

WMAHSN promotes the use of advanced diagnostics and genomics to precisely target treatments for individuals and groups of patients. One of the main mechanisms for delivering this priority is the West Midlands Genomic Medicine Centre (WM GMC), one of 11 centres across the country that are leading the way in delivering the 100,000 Genomes Project.

The initiative involves collecting and decoding 100,000 human genomes – complete sets of people’s genes – that will enable scientists and doctors to understand more about specific conditions. The three-year project will transform diagnosis and treatment for patients with rare diseases and some cancers. The WM GMC will deliver up to 18,000 of the total number of genomes, drawing on its unique population through a collaboration of healthcare organisations.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust is leading the WM GMC on behalf of all 18 acute trusts in the region, with the University of Birmingham as its academic partner. The collaboration is underpinned by the WMAHSN, which has funded three Genomics Medicine Ambassadors to spread the message across the region. 

The planned outcomes are: 

  • To transform the diagnosis and treatment for cancer and rare diseases
  • To prepare our workforce to operate in a transformed health environment for the ultimate benefit of our patients and the population as a whole
  • To exploit the better sharing of data for research and other purposes
  • To create jobs for the local economy
  • To transform hospital specialist service
  • To initiate world class research
  • To accelerate the application of genomic technologies by the widest range of healthcare professionals anywhere in the NHS and enhance accessibility to the 21st century care across the whole region
  • To improve the prediction and prevention of disease
  • To enable new and more precise diagnostic tests
  • To allow personalisation of drugs and other treatments to specific genetic variants.
  • Some participating patients will benefit because a conclusive diagnosis can be reached for a rare and inherited disease more quickly, or because a treatment for cancer can be targeted at the particular genetic change that is present in the cancer. But for a number of patients, the benefit will be in the improvement in our knowledge of the influence of genetics on disease and how it is expressed in an individual, how other people can be helped with similar diseases in the future, and how different types of tests can be developed to detect changes beyond the genome.

Advanced diagnostics, genomics and precision medicine represent a significant change in how care will be designed and delivered in the future and will have significant implications for how education and skills are able to deliver this. For some organisations, this will mean that there are new ways of working involving new and complex lab procedures, while other staff will be required to counsel patients and families about various different illnesses and new treatment options, and diagnostics in general will play an increasingly more prominent role, in addition to the existing diagnostic challenges posed by seven day working and growth in activity across all forms of imaging and lab-based diagnostics. There is likely also to be the development of new roles, and all staff will need to have a basic level of knowledge in order to be able to manage patient and service user queries.

Higher education institutions in the West Midlands have been commissioned to provide a specialist MSc to support the clinical staff most directly involved in genomics medicine, but in time all West Midlands trusts will need to include information about genomics in their workforce plans. For more information, visit the Health Education England website

In order to deliver on the advanced diagnostics, genomics and precision medicine priority, there are also seven enabling themes, all of which are on offer to WMAHSN members:


Past and current programmes


The Clinical Lead for the advanced diagnostics, genomics and precision medicine priority is Professor Dion Morton, Consultant Surgeon at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and Director of the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre at the University of Birmingham. To discuss this priority, please contact WMAHSN on or 0121 371 8061.