The Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine (NICSM) was established in Autumn 2013 to focus on better approaches for the treatment of a range of degenerative and metabolic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, cancers, mental health, arthritis and neuromuscular disease.
Stratified medicine (also known as personalised or precision medicine) is an approach, which subdivides patients into groups based on their risk of developing specific diseases or their response to particular therapies. Stratified medicine is recognised as a key global priority for healthcare providers, pharmaceutical and diagnostic industries and patients. The ultimate aim of a stratified approach to medicine is to enable healthcare professionals to provide the 'right treatment, for the right person, at the right time.'
Stratified Medicine relies on using biological markers to separate patients into specific groups for diagnosing and treating disease at much earlier time points than currently possible. In order to realise the potential benefits of stratified medicine, advances in technologies and systems are required to reliably predict disease, select the best treatment and reduce side effects for each individual patient.
At NICSM, we have the largest single critical mass of researchers solely focused on stratified medicine in Ireland. We have 23 Core staff, 19 PhD students, and 36 NHS Clinicians affiliated to our Research Centre. Our researchers are molecular biologists, clinicians and bioinformaticians/data scientists and we are committed to multidisciplinary research across the fields of molecular biology and data science to help drive our research.
Our Centre is based in the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) on the Altnagelvin Hospital site in Derry/Londonderry. Our facility comprises clinic rooms for the recruitment of research participants, cell culture facilities, molecular and microbiology labs and server access for data analysis.
Biomedical Science at Ulster University has an outstanding record of success in research, having been awarded the highest possible rating in RAE1996 and 2001, and ranked first place in terms of research power in RAE2008. In REF2014, we were judged to be among the top five universities in terms of research power (out of 92 UK submissions) with 100% four star rating for our research environment.
Biomedical Sciences research activities are currently organized within distinct Research Groups: Diabetes, Food & Health (through Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE)), Genomic Medicine, Pharmaceutical Sciences & Practice, Stratified Medicine and Vision Science.
Multi-disciplinary collaboration between the research groups is strongly encouraged and is widespread with research into, for instance, anti-diabetic and antioncogenic aspects of nutrition, the genomics of vitamin receptors, visual deterioration or cancer, imaging of neovascularisation. Our research investigates the interaction between cardiovascular disease and vision and the impact of health and disease, diet, diabetes on dementia, hypertension, vascular and inflammatory disease, to name a few.
In practice, the research groups collaborate both internally and internationally on a range of prioritized multi-disciplinary themes in: ageing, drug discovery and delivery, personalized medicine and genomic medicine. There is also opportunity to undertake research in a number of multi-disciplinary research areas, which combine cutting edge Biomedical Sciences research with psychology, computing and engineering and computational biology. The BMSRI has strong collaborations with regional and global pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies and many of our graduates and postgraduates gain employment in the pharma, diagnostics and health care sectors as well as academia.
The BMSRI offers a "state-of-the-art" research environment for high profile researchers to undertake internationally agenda setting research in strategically prioritized areas of biomedicine. This research environment earned Biomedical Sciences at Ulster a No. 1 ranking in RAE2008, and was again rated as 100% "world-leading" in REF2014. Our research is carried out in well-equipped laboratories allowing the latest methods to be applied to individual projects. Our entire infrastructure is managed as Core Facility Units (CFUs) with equipment and laboratories dedicated to: advanced molecular bioimaging/microscopy, bioinformatics, cell biology, chemical analysis, genomics, proteomics/metabolomics (include Mass Spectrometry & NMR analysis), transgenics, physiology and pharmacology.
The BMSRI research infrastructure also includes centralized resources for: high throughput drug screening in vitro assays, clinical research & human intervention studies/ trials; the use and storage of mammalian cells and tissues; and in vivo studies in Animal reporter gene models and animal models that replicate human disease. The BMSRI uses its estate of equipment, specialist laboratories, infrastructure and internationally recognized biomedical expertise to offer clinical & translational services to Academic Researchers and Industrial Business partners. The BMSRI routinely engages in collaborative research with some of the world's leading pharmaceutical and biomedical companies and through the support of Ulster's Office of Innovation, the University has established a track record of success in the commercialization of its research outcomes.
At C-TRIC, clinicians, academics and businesses in the life and health sector can collaborate to facilitate the research, development and launch of innovative health technologies, medical devices and therapeutics. In addition to high-spec capabilities such as human genome sequencing, FLOW cytometry and tissue culture, C-TRIC's hospital location also permits direct access to NHS diagnostic laboratories and Clinical Research Nurses, and its on-site office of the Western Trust's Research and Development department provides access to expertise in research governance and healthcare economics.