Scientists convene for Viapath’s fourth Innovation Academy Scientific Symposium ‘Next Generation Diagnostics’


London, 23 December 2014: A host of dynamic and influential scientists, lecturers and clinicians in the pathology field were amongst over 115 delegates who convened in London recently to present important scientific findings for ‘Next Generation Diagnostics’, the subject of the fourth Innovation Academy Scientific Symposium organised by Viapath.

Held in the auspicious setting of The Grocers’ Hall in the City of London on 5 December 2014, the day-long free symposium was opened by Dr Dominic Harrington, Scientific Director at Viapath, who spoke of the unprecedented opportunity that the Innovation Academy offered to the profession to share ideas around the founding principles of Innovation, Quality and Staff Development and ultimately improve the lives of patients.

Key speakers in the first session of the symposium included writer, broadcaster and scientist, Vivienne Parry OBE, Head of Engagement at Genomes England delivering the 100,000 Genomes Project, a three year study which will link phenotypic and medical record data with genome data. Vivienne said, “Platforms such as the Innovation Academy are so important. Healthcare scientists and pathologists stand at the interface between patients and research and are the best placed people in the NHS to drive the development of ideas and adoption of ground-breaking technologies to improve patient outcome.”

The link between dietary vitamin K2 intake and cardiovascular disease and mortality was discussed by visiting speaker, Dr Fokko Zandbergen from Maastricht University, who presented work by his research team, Group VitaK, under Prof Cees Vermeer (a leading light in vitamin K2 research), while Dr Heinz Jungbluth, Consultant in Child Neurology and Senior Lecturer at the Evelina Children’s Hospital, explained the impact of primary defects in membrane trafficking and autophagy on a number of neurological disorders, relating to conditions ranging from Parkinson’s Disease (PD), to Dementia.

Session Two themed ‘Innovation Fund’, was followed by three fast-paced 'lightning sessions' representing the final round of the Richard Hurst Memorial Prize for Excellence in Pathology, an award given to Viapath scientific staff whose abstract, as chosen by an expert panel, showed originality of the science and relevance to pathology. Adele Corrigan, research assistant at St. Thomas’ Hospital, who was voted the winner by the Innovation Academy audience, is investigating the pharmacogenetic basis of platinum drug toxicity, and has identified AQP8 and C7orf57, novel genetic markers of platinum drug toxicity using an unbiased, exome-wide approach.

The speakers featured in Session Three were invited by Professor Swaminathan to mark his retirement. The session opened with Professor Neil Dalton, Professor of Paediatric Biochemistry, King’s College London, Director of the WellChild Laboratory, Evelina London Children’s Hospital and a founding director of SpOtOn Clinical Diagnostics.

Professor Dalton explained the obvious challenges limiting introduction of routine clinical diagnostic multiplexed assays; calibration, quality control, technical competence, and interpretation skills. However, large scale research metabolomic studies have not only served to emphasise these challenges but also provided a platform to test solutions and demonstrate how analytically robust modern TMS platforms can be.

Dr Tony Marinaki, Consultant Clinical Scientist in the Purine Research Laboratory, Biochemical Sciences, Viapath, offered an insight into microRNAs (miRNAs), small non-coding RNAs which post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression. Readily detectable in the circulation due to their stability and levels in serum or plasma, MicroRNAs have potential as diagnostically useful biomarkers.

The final speaker of the day was Professor Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Director of the TwinsUK Registry at King’s College London, who discussed findings of a large-scale multi-omic study by The Department of Twin Research (DTR) on 11,000 adult twins, with sub-studies used to explore the heritability, QTLs and age relationships of different omics.

Addressing the delegation at the close of the Symposium, Dominic Harrington of Viapath, said, “We heard some fascinating talks on Next Generation Diagnostic technologies and how they are making the transition from average response to personalised response medicine by maximising patient treatment response and minimising harmful side effects. We thank the speakers and attendees for their contributions which make this Innovation Academy a genuine forum for change.”

Editor’s Note

Viapath Group was previously known as GSTS Pathology LLP and rebranded as Viapath on 1 May 2014. The organisation was created five years ago by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Serco plc. Later in 2009, the joint venture won a contract to provide pathology services to Bedford Hospital NHS Trust. In 2010, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust became a member. Viapath is now majority owned by two leading teaching hospitals.

The Innovation Academy was conceived to bring together the wide spectrum of resources, researchers, innovation and development within the field of pathology and to disseminate the outputs to the wider clinical and scientific community. It is a forum for communication based on three foundation principles – Innovation, Quality and Staff Development.

Pathology is vital to health care and it is estimated that 70-80% of all health care decisions affecting diagnosis or treatment involve a pathology investigation. Viapath provides pathology services to over 400 NHS trusts, GP practices and private health clinics. With around 1,000 employees processing more than 22 million tests each year, the work of Viapath touches thousands of lives every day.

For more information about the speakers and to hear the podcasts for the day, visit or follow us on Twitter @ViapathUk

Press Information

Deirdre Cumberbatch | Viapath
External Communications
M: 07718 193 332

Francis House, 9 King’s Head Yard, London, SE1 1NA

Viapath are grateful for the support and sponsorship of their partners, Lyreco, Thermo Fisher Scientific
and Roche Diagnostics in helping make the Innovation Academy such a success.

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