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UCD co-leads on EU project to integrate genomic data into healthcare

Posted 18 November 2022

(opens in a new window)An EU project to support personalised medicine and aid in the discovery of the genetic causes of disease is to be co-lead by (opens in a new window)University College Dublin.

Jointly funded by the European Commission and the Health Research Board (HRB), (opens in a new window)Genomic Data Infrastructure (GDI) Ireland is the Irish leg of a new Europe-wide programme to support the integration of genomics into healthcare and advance new treatments for patients.

UCD are co-leading with Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and FutureNeuro, the SFI Research Centre for Neurological Diseases, with the University Limerick and Maynooth University as co-applicants.

“The Irish GDI hub will establish best practice to manage Irish genetic data; protecting the security of the data that individuals choose to contribute for scientific research,” said (opens in a new window)Professor Denis Shields, GDI Ireland co-lead and Professor of Clinical Bioinformatics at the UCD School of Medicine and UCD Conway Institute Fellow.

“The lead partner for GDI is the central hub of Elixir Europe, a network whose mission is to coordinate greatly increased research use and reuse of life science data.

“As the head of the Elixir Ireland node, I am delighted that Ireland is playing its part in this initiative and can draw on the expertise of our European partners."

GDI Ireland is part of a consortium of 20 EU Member States with the goal of enabling access to genomics and corresponding clinical data across Europe.

The project will facilitate a secure cross-border federated network of national genome collections for biomedical research and personalised medicine solutions.

“By realising this federated analysis system we will enable Irish genomes to be safely and securely analysed alongside similar datasets from other European countries,” added GDI Ireland co-lead (opens in a new window)Professor Gianpiero Cavalleri, RCSI Professor of Human Genetics and Deputy Director of the SFI FutureNeuro Research Centre.

“Such infrastructure can accelerate the discovery of genetic causes of disease and inform the development of much needed treatments for conditions such as cancer that can have a devastating impact on our lives.”

The GDI project positions Ireland to participate in the ambitious Europe wide ‘1+ Million Genomes’ initiative, which is driving the development, deployment, and operation of sustainable data-access infrastructures within each participating country.

It will bring together national agencies, research organisations, technology providers and patient organisations in 20 countries according to Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, HRB Chief Executive.

“The overarching goal is to design, develop and operationalise a cross-border federated network of national genome collections and other relevant data to advance data-driven personalised medicine for the benefit of European citizens.”

Adding: “Ireland’s participation in this project will see our researchers, clinicians, patient representatives, experts in data governance, data analysts and others collaborating on a roadmap for data infrastructure in Ireland and conducting proof-of-concept work using synthetic data.”

GDI Ireland is supported by the (opens in a new window)SFI Centre for Research Training in Genomics Data Science, the (opens in a new window)Irish Platform for Patient Organisations and Industry and (opens in a new window)Health Research Charities Ireland.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations