How is your research/technology relevant to personalised medicine?

Many attributable diagnostic categories are giant buckets into which patients are put – asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, heart attack, fatty liver disease, for example. But as a doctor you want to treat the individual patient, in parallel with public health strategy. Personalised medicine is about using detail to guide decision-making. Our research is based on accurate phenotyping of liver disease to determine what the diagnosis is, and who may best respond to treatment, and to provide surrogate clinical endpoints for research into liver disease.

What are the challenges to getting your research/technology into widespread use, and is that the aim?

Scalability, or translation, is about making processes that are independent of individual people. For example, in Oxford we could phenotype livers with non-invasive MRI better than anywhere else in the world in 2013, but to make that available to patients outside Oxford, in different hospitals, different countries – that is a challenge. The aim – if your innovation is any good, measured by clinical impact/change in outcomes, this is simply to improve health for patients worldwide.

What can be done to make the most of the opportunities for personalised medicine to improve health and healthcare?

Cross-disciplinary work is the key here. No one person or group can lay claim to personalised medicine. Genotyping, bio-informatics, pharmacology, chemistry,  engineering, imaging, epidemiology, public health, all the medical specialties and many other disciplines will all feed into decision-making for the individual patient as the medical/scientific evidence. This is good medicine – the best treatment for you based on your wishes (based on choice, experience, preference, culture) and circumstances (genetic, acquired, geographical and demographic), and medical/scientific evidence.