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Novo Nordisk Foundation to invest €133M in new national genome centre

Laboratory

Based on an application by Denmark’s Ministry of Health, the Board of Directors of the Novo Nordisk Foundation has approved a framework grant of DKK 990 million (€133 million) over 4.5 years for establishing and operating the infrastructure of the National Genome Centre.

The Foundation has awarded DKK 102 million of this to begin setting up the Centre’s data and information technology unit immediately in 2019. In addition, the Foundation has awarded a grant of DKK 30 million to enable the Ministry to involve leading experts from Denmark and elsewhere in preparing a resilient project plan for establishing and operating the infrastructure of the Centre.

A unique opportunity

The goal is for Denmark to become one of the leading countries in this field, improving both the treatment and prevention of disease.

“The Foundation has decided to support the National Genome Centre to create opportunities for improving and targeting treatment services for numerous disease areas to benefit individual patients,” says Lars Rebien Sørensen, Chairman, Novo Nordisk Foundation. ”We have a unique opportunity to set the pace for using this new knowledge about our genes to help doctors in combating disease and saving people’s lives.”

”The grant from the Foundation for the National Genome Centre can help us accelerate the process by which our healthcare system will increasingly treat people based on knowledge about their genes. This means that doctors can determine which treatments will benefit patients and which will not. For example, we may be able to intervene preventively to benefit a person with inherited heart disease and not simply benefit this person but also their sister, brother, children, father and mother. The grant from the Foundation will contribute to Denmark being able to improve the overall initiatives in personalized medicine to a level that would otherwise take a long time to achieve in Denmark’s healthcare system. This will benefit patients,” says Ellen Trane Nørby, Minister for Health.

Genome sequencing facilities in Aarhus and Copenhagen

As a result of the initiative, genome sequencing facilities will be established in Aarhus and in Copenhagen as specified in the Ministry’s application. The Ministry expects that about 60,000 people will undergo whole-genome sequencing in the first 5 years of the Centre. The sequencing and data processing will be based at public institutions, and the Centre will give highest priority to security in storing and using the data in a central national database. An interpretation unit will support doctors in using the data to benefit patients.

About the National Genome Centre

The National Genome Centre is an independent organization under Denmark’s Ministry of Health. The Centre will be a hub for the visionary and balanced development of genomic medicine in Denmark. The Government of Denmark allocated DKK 100 million (€13 million) in the 2017 Finance Act to co-finance the work with personalized medicine for 2017–2020.

The Centre’s task is to develop and operate a unified nationwide infrastructure for processing genetic information.

An important goal for the Centre is to collaborate with the healthcare system in all five administrative regions to create the basis for improving diagnosis and targeted treatment to benefit each individual patient.

Image: iStock