First Minister visit marks expansion in Scottish-based genomics testing capability

Feb 27, 2019

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, views world leading joint venture in genomics research during Livingston research laboratory tour.

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, visited human data sciences company IQVIA at its Livingston Alba Campus today (Wednesday, 27th February), to mark its expansion in a new genomics testing capability. 

A joint venture by parent organisations IQVIA and Quest Diagnostics, Q2 Solutions combines the best of each parent organisation’s capabilities in clinical trials and laboratory services. The Q2 Solutions Livingston laboratory processes 4 million biological samples from clinical trials across the world. 

Research and testing in genomics is crucial for understanding the effectiveness, impact, and safety of medicines on different patients, based on their genetic makeup, for many life-limiting diseases including cancer. 

The new genomics service provided at the Alba campus by Q2 Solutions will allow pharmaceutical and biotech companies to better understand how genes affect people’s health and risk of disease, subsequently enabling the development of personalised medicines. As a result, health service organisations across the world, including the NHS in Scotland, can prescribe more targeted medicines for patients - and deliver better value for money.

The first phase of this investment in the new genomics testing infrastructure and equipment means that the laboratory at the Alba campus offers a uniquely integrated world leading service by delivering much faster results for Doctors and patients. This integration is achieved by having the genomics testing working alongside biological sample and biomarker testing on the one Livingston site.

On the tour of Q2 Solutions laboratory at the Alba Campus in Livingston, the First Minister met senior IQVIA and Q2 Solutions executives and staff to discuss future opportunities for the Scottish life sciences sector. Senior IQVIA and Q2 Solutions personnel also took the opportunity to raise the organisation’s concerns about the impact of a “No Deal” Brexit on the life sciences sector in Scotland.

IQVIA conducts over 20 per cent of all commercial clinical trials in the NHS and operates a unique research model partnering with one its three exemplar UK ‘Prime Sites’ located in Scotland. These Prime Sites are high-throughput clinical research centres where IQVIA invest in training to increase efficiency, site performance and access to patients, and where it thus conducts most of its UK research.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Genomics is an essential element of precision medicine which has the potential to transform the way we treat and prevent disease. Tailoring healthcare to fit an individual’s genetics and lifestyle promises to deliver major benefits in terms of earlier diagnosis, more effective treatment and better targeting of resources.

“Advances in precision medicine have huge potential for Scotland’s longer term health and prosperity, and I am committed to ensuring that we continue to build on our reputation as a centre of excellence in this field. This latest investment by IQVIA at the Q2Solutions laboratory in Livingston reinforces Scotland’s position as a global leader, and is testament to the skilled workforce and diversity of the Scottish life science sector.”

Speaking about the White Paper following the launch, Tony Brown, Vice President and General Manager, Global Central Lab, Q2 Solutions said:

“We were delighted to welcome the First Minister to Livingston today to the Q2 Solutions laboratory and demonstrate how the work we’re doing is improving health outcomes for people in Scotland and much further afield. We’ve experienced a period of significant growth in the last few years, employing many new highly skilled Scots professionals, offering both graduate and apprenticeship opportunities, and we’re committed to continuing to invest in world leading research here in Scotland.”

“It was an important opportunity for us to also raise our concerns with the First Minister about the impact of a “No Deal” Brexit on the prospects for the life sciences sector in Scotland, and the need for measures to put in place to ensure Scotland maintains its reputation as a centre of excellence in conducting clinical trials across the world.”

Tim Sheppard, Senior Vice President (SVP) and General Manager, Northern Europe IQVIA, said: “We continue to invest in new technologies to reflect current and future market trends and by expanding the scope of our research activities at the Alba Campus, by adding an enhanced genomics testing capability, we will play our part in supporting pharma and biotech companies develop personalised medicines for patients in Scotland and further afield. This is a key part of our strategy to ensure that we can continue to comprehensively support the evolving research needs of the global life sciences industry from our flagship laboratory site in Scotland.” 

“Scotland is already a leading global hub for life sciences, employing over 37,000 people across some 700 organisations. Companies in this sector contribute more than £4.2bn turnover and about £2bn gross to the Scottish economy. Our ambition is to see this growth continue in the future, and to play our part in that growth.”