There is widespread recognition across the Labour Party leadership that successfully developing science capabilities, and in turn medical innovation, is central to achieving Keir Starmer’s “five missions”, that is according to Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation.
Onwurah (pictured above) was speaking at Public Policy Projects’ Global Genomics Conference, which convened genomics experts and policy leaders from across the world to help spread the adoption of genomic innovation. Onwurah used her keynote address to praise the UK’s “proud history of medical innovation” and stressed that the UK “has a duty to nurture and scale up this vital field. Which will require strong political leadership to drive forward”.
However, Onwurah warned that “the UK cannot do this alone”, stressing that realising the potential of this innovation “relies on close collaboration with European and international partners”.
This ethos defines the work of PPP’s Global Genomics Network, which strives to convene global stakeholders to help spread the transformational benefits of genomic science. However, PPP’s network seeks to focus on genomics in a way that reflects global health priorities and in a way that fits into the broader context of public policymaking.
Speaking to an audience of genomics scientists, professors and industry innovators, Onwurah stressed that a Labour government would implement a cross-government innovation and adoption strategy, as part of the Party’s mission to build an NHS ‘fit for the future’. This strategy would help spread and speed up the adoption of innovation and would be aligned to the government’s Life Sciences Vision.
“A short-term approach to research projects is a barrier to an effective research base with diversification.”
Onwurah insisted that Labour views facilitating life-saving research as central to their “mission-based” approach to government. She said Labour will supplement this strategy with a 10-year research and development budget to support researchers and use long-term planning to help diversify the UK’s science base. “A short-term approach to research projects is a barrier to an effective research base with diversification,” Onwurah reflected.
Keen to emphasise Labour’s credentials in innovation and global entrepreneurship, Onwurah insisted that “genomics will make a tremendous contribution to our national health”. The role of genomics and pharmacogenomics in realising personalised medicine offers potentially transformational benefits to the UK health and care system and, while not providing explicit details, Onwurah hinted at genomics playing an increasingly important role in future Labour strategy pertaining to preventative health.
Transformation in genomics will not be realised without a comprehensive strategy to sharing and harnessing health data. The issue of garnering effective public trust in sharing health data is central to this debate.
Coinciding with the conference was the announcement of the completion of the NHS Federated Data Platform procurement, with Palantir confirmed as the successful bidder. Audience members were as such keen to quiz the Shadow Minister for Labour’s take. Onwurah was careful to not provide explicit details on Labour’s approach, but was keen to emphasise that, if elected, the party would work with stakeholders and with the public to create a health data strategy based on trust and transparency that would harness health data to the benefit of the public good.
For more information about PPP’s Global Genomics Programme or for details on how to participate in future engagement activities, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.