The world is facing an unprecedented convergence of environmental and lifestyle factors that dramatically increase our risk of chronic disease. Global warming, antimicrobial resistance, aging populations, and the prevalence of lifestyle-related illnesses are systematically affecting populations around the world and posing some of the greatest scientific and public health threats seen in modern times.
These challenges require global solutions that can be identified and implemented quickly. Our success may depend on international collaboration in research and integrated studies that can account for today’s global health realities.
Earlier this year, the Phenome Centre Birmingham and the Singapore Phenome Centre joined the Imperial College London-based MRC-NIHR National Phenome Centre as three parallel research centers that will study disease at the intersection of patients’ genomes and environment.
Last week, this field of research took another pivotal step forward. At the 2016 World Innovation Summit for Health in Doha, Qatar, a consortium of world-leading research centers launched the International Phenome Centre Network (IPCN). It involves more than a dozen international partners with regional, multi-institutional hubs in Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
They will work together by sharing ideas, discoveries, and information to address chronic and burdensome diseases, including autism, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and obesity. What makes their work exciting and groundbreaking is their commitment to research harmonization – using the same methodologies to bring data together across diverse geographies and populations.
To date, most leading researchers have relied on their own methods and approaches to research. The network’s cooperative approach to science recognizes the scale of the global health problems we face and the unified approach to research required to make affordable, timely, and verifiable discoveries.
The IPCN will use metabolic phenotyping to examine the dynamic interactions between our genes, environments, microbiomes, diets, and lifestyles and their impact on disease. Through comprehensive analysis of biological fluids or tissue samples, this research can aid the prediction, prevention, and treatment of disease. It can provide actionable information for clinical care, which is not possible from genomics alone.
Waters is proud to be a founding corporate partner of the IPCN. Its research is made possible through advanced analytical science, including mass spectrometry. As a world leader in mass spectrometry technologies and methods, Waters is an ideal partner to help the network develop and implement new and innovative technologies that can explain the underpinnings of disease in greater detail than previously possible.
As an international company, Waters has been able to leverage its global connections in the scientific, academic, regulatory, and policy-making communities to promote the network concept and its value for health research. In addition, we have helped the network’s individual centers develop their laboratory capabilities, so that they have the tools and training to partner in globally-integrated data sharing and research projects.
Waters has provided major support to metabolic phenotyping training centers at Birmingham University and Imperial College London. More than 200 scientists have received training through these facilities, which is critical to building the world’s workforce for harmonized research.
We are excited about the future of metabolic phenotyping and the research that will flow from the IPCN. I look forward to sharing updates with you as projects commence and results are generated. This is an incredible opportunity to transform health care globally.