Research and Technology

11.09.19

Genetics research project announced, new pathway for overseas students

Government has announced plans for a new immigration route, enabling international students to work in the UK for two years post-graduation, with the aim of attracting and retaining the brightest and best talent within the country’s healthcare system.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the pathway to help ensure that the UK keeps hold of many of the promising international students who make up full-time post-graduate numbers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. Half of all full-time post-graduate students in STEM subjects are from overseas.

In order to qualify for the new immigration pathway, students will need to have successfully completed a degree from a trusted UK university or higher education provider.

By retaining these promising intellectuals within the country post-graduation, it is hoped that it will open up opportunities for future breakthroughs in science, technology and research and other world-leading work that international talent brings to the UK.

One such pioneering research project, launched in the UK, with international collaboration, is the world’s largest genetics project – a £200m whole genome sequencing project of all volunteers in the UK Biobank.

The new project, who’s announcement coincided with the government’s new international student pathway plans, aims to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of serious and life-threatening illnesses including cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, arthritis and dementia, through genetic research that can explain why some people develop these conditions and others do not.

The partnership of pharmaceutical firms and health experts from the UK and abroad will examine and sequence the genetic code of 500,000 volunteers at the UK Biobank.

Prime Minister Johnson said of the announced plans: “Britain has a proud history of putting itself at the heart of international collaboration and discovery.

“Now we are bringing together experts from around the globe to work in the UK on the world’s largest genetics research project, set to help us better treat life-threatening illnesses and ultimately save lives.”

READ MORE: ‘Transformational’ genome sequencing project reaches 100,000 patients target

READ MORE: Hancock announces ‘bold aspiration’ to map five million genomes

Health secretary Matt Hancock added: “I am incredibly excited by the potential of genomics to change the way we think about disease and healthcare.

“In an ageing society with an increasing burden of chronic diseases, it is vital that we diagnose earlier, personalise treatment and where possible prevent diseases from occurring altogether.

This project will help unlock new treatments and grow our understanding of how genetics effects our risk of disease.”

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