Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield have opened the Julia Garnham Centre – a new genomic pre-screening facility supporting NHS geneticists to diagnose blood cancers.
The new remote work placement centre – named after Julia Garnham, a genetic technologist who helped diagnose genetic diseases at the trust for over 30 years – will provide students with essential experience and training in genetic analysis.
By preparing anonymised cancer cases and making them available for geneticists to analyse, students working at the centre will save Sheffield Children’s time by improving the timeliness of reporting different types of cancer results, the trust says.
Duncan Baker, Lead Clinical Scientist, Sheffield Diagnostic Genetics Service, part of Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This unique collaboration has been successfully helping the genetic analysis of samples from patients with leukaemia. The students have already been trained by the University so that they are immediately beneficial to the service.
“They learn diagnostic skills, an understanding of patient pathways and the importance of the results. These students then go on to work within the NHS all over the UK, indeed we have numerous ex-placement students now working in Sheffield Diagnostic Genetics.”
Dr Polly Talley, Consultant Clinical Scientist and Lead Scientist for Haemato Oncology, North East and Yorkshire Genomic Laboratory Hub, added: “The Julia Garnham Centre is a truly symbiotic way of providing support to the diagnostic service and offering specialist career skills to the students.
“The team have demonstrated that students can make a true difference to managing analysis backlogs and improving the turnaround times for cancer patients, and this is a model that is being considered for national roll out. “As well as this it gives the students valuable scientific skills which have been instrumental in progressing their own training and career progression.”