(1 June 2023) We were absolutely delighted to host a visit by David Webb, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England, to the NHS North East and Yorkshire Genomic Medicine Service (NEY GMS) at the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals.

The meeting provided a great opportunity for pharmacy colleagues, from early career to senior clinicians working in genomic medicine and the multidisciplinary team, to learn about NEY GMS’s work in pharmacogenomics and precision medicine.


The day opened, with coffee, conversation, networking (and the occasional biscuit), before being treated to a raft of engaging & informative talks from several senior leaders within North East & Yorkshire.

The presentations, led off by Professor Neil Watson, clearly outlined the important role NEY GMS fulfils in bringing stakeholders together to deliver national and local priorities aimed at embedding genomics into routine clinical care for the benefit of patients.


However, this wasn’t a day for quietly sitting and listening. A key part of the visit was to employ the wide range of skills and expertise in the room, and focus this knowledge on horizon scanning for a genomic medicine future.

Split into smaller working groups, no one hung back as they set about scoping the opportunities and challenges associated with embedding pharmacogenomics into mainstream medicines optimisation in the NHS.

A particularly timely focus, given that incorporating the latest genomic advances into routine medicines optimisation is becoming ever closer to reality, and pharmacogenomics being recognised as a key area in the NHS England strategy “Accelerating Genomic Medicine in the NHS” (NHS England, 2022).


With the group work completed, there was a chance to hear about some of the pioneering projects being undertaken by NEY GMS and North East & North Cumbria Academic Health Science Network (NENC AHSN). This included Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) case identification, pharmacist led projects offering FH gene testing to patients, and education and training initiatives in collaboration with NHS North Thames GMS.


One of the highlights of the day was a chance to hear from our patient representative, Mrs Jean Stafford. Jean shared her experience of the diagnosis and management of Familial Hypercholesterolemia, and the important role the pharmacy team has played in her journey.


Having had a chance to talk with Jean, David then brought the group together to summarise the day’s activities, before heading over to the Centre for Life for the final element of the day.  A visit to Newcastle Genetics Laboratory to find out about the hugely successful implementation of DPYD pharmacogenomic testing prior to prescribing a commonly used class of chemotherapies called fluoropyrimidines.

(NHS Genomic Laboratory Hubs deliver nearly 4,000 DPYD tests every month to help identify those patients who are at an increased risk of experiencing treatment-related toxicity.  Affected individuals can then receive treatment tailored to their needs (e.g. a lower dose or alternative type of medication))