The Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Life Sciences Initiative (LSI) aims to develop a unique life sciences cluster stretching across our east London campuses, acting as a beacon to attract partners from higher education, the NHS and industry. Working with these partners, and through the application of interdisciplinary research expertise garnered from all three faculties of QMUL, the LSI will address fundamental healthcare-related challenges to deliver demonstrable patient benefits. In doing so, the LSI and partners will produce key deliverables that aim to prevent illness and optimise treatment (through improved delivery of safe and compassionate care) and so address the marked health inequalities in the local population of London’s East End and beyond.
The LSI recently reoriented its research remit to better meet the aims described above; the previous domains have been replaced with three virtual LSI research centres and one cross-cutting theme.
Three virtual LSI research centres and one cross-cutting centre support life sciences research at QMUL. These are:
- Genomic Health (led by Mark Caulfield (William Harvey Research Institute), Panos Deloukas (William Harvey Research Institute), Vardhman Rakyan (Blizard Institute), and David van Heel (Blizard Institute));
- Bioengineering (led by Alvaro Mata (School of Engineering and Material Science));
- Mind in society (led by Magda Osman (School of Biological and Chemical Sciences), deputy lead David Adger, (School of Languages Linguistics and Film), Stefan Priebe (Wolfson Institute), Marcus Pearce (School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science));
- Cross-cutting Centre for Computational biology (led by Conrad Bessant (School of Biological and Chemical Sciences) and Claude Chelala (Barts Cancer Institute)).
In addition to the formation of the new centres, the LSI is also supporting new initiatives in aligned areas – at present these are in digital health and the microbiome (the combined genetic material of micro-organisms in the body).
In tandem with the new centres and work in aligned areas, a crucial aspect of the LSI research remit is clinical engagement and care. Through collaboration between QMUL academics and Barts Health NHS Trust clinicians, our developing joint ‘Clinical-academic group’ aims to produce a suite of activities that will interact with the new research centres.
Our research is conducted across a wide range of disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, law, medicine, dentistry, science and engineering. There is substantial world-class life sciences activity across the university, including:
- Global health governance
- Ethics and regulation
- The evaluation of public health interventions
- Business innovation in healthcare.
The range of subjects enables us to offer broad, interesting and exciting areas of study to students and researchers.
Our co-location at both our Whitechapel and Charterhouse Square campuses with clinical services at the Barts Health NHS Trust, together with our work with the East London NHS Foundation Trust and local commissioning groups (CCGs), complements and strengthens our research endeavours.
Other key factors that contribute towards making life sciences a rapidly evolving area for research include:
- The cost of sequencing an individual human genome has fallen to a level where it can be conducted commercially at substantial volume
- The technology now exists to go beyond comparing differences in people’s genetic makeup (genotyping), to studying the products of genes (transcriptomics), cell signalling molecules (metabolomics) and protein analysis (proteomics)
- Many parts of the health service have moved to electronic data recording, thus allowing the utilisation of such records (suitably anonymised) in data analysis
- Environmental and social records in the UK are well maintained, accessible and rich. These can be augmented, accessing the rapidly emerging range of devices and internet-based systems that record location, activity, behaviour and health metrics
- New approaches are being developed to cope with high data volumes and high data rates – allowing the analysis in realistic timeframes of data such as those described above.
QMUL already possesses substantial expertise in the processing and analysis of big datasets; a number of physicists from QMUL’s Particle Physics Research Centre have been heavily involved in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and the computing resources available at QMUL are well developed. Barts Health NHS Trust is one of the largest hospital trusts in Europe and already uses an electronic health record system.
There is a substantial amount of life science research activity within QMUL’s three faculties, their schools and institutes. Find out more about our life science research activity.
Find out more about the impact of QMUL’s life sciences research on individual patients and populations.
QMUL has excellent international links for research, students, partnerships and opportunities to study abroad, giving the university a global impact. It has been named one of the world’s "most international" universities.