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Ireland to Participate in European Union’s ‘1+ Million Genomes Initiative’

Ireland has officially joined the European Union’s 1+ Million Genomes (1+MG) Initiative. The initiative, which was launched in 2018, is designed to improve Europe’s genomic infrastructure and capacity. By increasing access to genomic health data, 1+MG will improve our understanding, prevention, and treatment of disease.

HSE Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry, along with delegates from the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health, were welcomed by 1+MG coordinators at an in-person meeting in Brussels. Given Ireland’s planned launch of the National Strategy for Accelerating Genomic Medicine on 13 December 2022, entry into Europe’s 1+MG comes at a significant time for Irish developments in genetics and genomics.

Participation in 1+MG will allow Irish agencies supporting genetic and genomic work activities to participate in key workstreams. These workstreams include:

  • Work organisation
  • Implementing personalised healthcare in cost-effective and efficient ways
  • Ethical, legal, and social issues
  • Health and phenotypic data
  • Good genomic practice and standards
  • Infrastructure and interoperability

The 1+MG Initiative is driving the development of sustainable data-access infrastructure across the EU. The vision is that authorised data users such as clinicians, researchers and innovators will be able to advance our understanding of genomics for enhanced healthcare that will benefit citizens, healthcare systems and the economy.

Representatives from Ireland’s Health Research Board (HRB) were present at the launch of the Genomic Data Infrastructure (GDI) project. The GDI project is designed to support the 1+MG Initiative by building a European federated genomic database. The Health Research Board is investing €400,000 to co-fund Irish participation in GDI. This project brings together national agencies, research organisations, technology providers and patient organisations from 20 countries. The goal of the project is to develop an international network of national genome collections to advance data-driven personalised medicine for the benefit of European citizens. Ireland’s participation in the GDI project will see our researchers, clinicians, and other relevant stakeholders collaborating on a roadmap for data infrastructure in Ireland and conducting proof-of-concept work using synthetic data.

In addition to Ireland’s participation in the 1+MG Initiative, the department has supported Ireland’s increased involvement in international research initiatives related to genetics and genomics. This includes joining two Horizon Europe Partnerships on Rare Diseases and Personalised Medicine and engaging in 18 European Reference Networks on Rare Diseases.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly welcomed Ireland’s accession to the 1+ Million Genomes Initiative, saying, “genetics and genomics have the potential to transform Irish healthcare. Working with our European partners to improve access to genomic information and build solid safeguards around genomic data will help us ensure we are learning from each other as we move ahead in this critical space.”


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