Genomics England recently announced the first 11 designated Genomic Medicine Centres (GMCs), which will be involved in the main phase of the 100,000 Genomes Project starting next month. About 75,000 people, including some with life-threatening and debilitating health issues and family members of patients with rare diseases, will participate in the project.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the 100,000 Genomes Project in 2012 with the goal of sequencing the genomes of 100,000 U.K. National Health System patients by 2017. 100,000 Genomes aims to create an ethical and transparent program; benefit patients while establishing a genomic medicine service for the NHS; foster new scientific discovery and medical insights; and give a valuable boost to the U.K. genomics industry.

The designated centers include:

  • East of England (at the lead of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust);
  • South London (Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust at the lead);
  • North West Coast (with Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at the lead);
  • Greater Manchester (led by Central Manchester University Hosptials NHS Foundation Trust);
  • University College London Partners (with Great Ormond Street Hospital NHF Foundation at the lead);
  • North East and North Cumbria (led by The Newcastle upon Tyne Hosptials NHS Foundation Trust);
  • Oxford (with Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust at the lead);
  • South West Peninsula (led by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust);
  • Wessex (led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust);
  • Umperial College Health Partners (led by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust); and
  • West Midlands (led by University Hospitals Birmingha NHS Foundation Trust).

“All of the GMCs will recruit patients wth both rare diseases and cancer except for the North East and North Cumbria NHS GMC, which will recruit only rare disease patients and their families,” according to a prepared statement. “Additional GMCs are expected to be created in due course ‘to ensure that there is comprehensive coverage.’”

“This is an achievable ambition which positions Britain to unlock longstanding mysteries of disease on behalf of humankind,” said Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s national medical director, in a prepared statement. “Embracing genomics will position us at the forefront of science and make the NHS the most scientifically advanced healthcare system in the world. This is the start of a unique, exciting journey that will bring benefits for patients, for the NHS and for society at large.”