Health Secretary visits the home of pioneering sepsis research study

Monday November 1st 2021


(Left - right) Head of the GenOMICC study Professor Kenneth Baillie, Sepsis Research FEAT supporter and sepsis survivor Kimberley Bradley, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, Sepsis Research FEAT COO Colin Graham, and Sepsis Research FEAT trustee Dr Robert Gray outside The Roslin Institute.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has joined the charity Sepsis Research FEAT on a visit to the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute in Midlothian, home to a research study that is helping to find improved treatments for sepsis.

The pioneering GenOMICC study, led by Professor Kenneth Baillie, researches how genes can influence the body’s response to conditions such as sepsis. Sepsis Research FEAT is the only UK charity fundraising to support sepsis research, while also working to raise awareness of this life-threatening condition. The charity has supported the GenOMICC study since 2018 and recently pledged a further £90,000 funding for the next two years, taking the charity’s total investment to £210,000.

Over 4,000 people die from sepsis every year in Scotland. Sepsis occurs when the body’s response to an infection spirals rapidly out of control, injuring its own tissues and organs which can result in multiple organ failure and death. The biological processes that cause the condition are not understood and that is why more research is needed.

On Mr Yousaf’s first visit to the Roslin Institute since becoming Health Secretary, he met with representatives from Sepsis Research FEAT and researchers from the GenOMICC study. While there, he toured the facilities to find out more about the vital research which is helping to develop improved treatments for sepsis. He also learnt about the role that the study played in the fight against COVID. Because there are similarities between sepsis and COVID, the work being carried out at the Roslin Institute was repurposed at the beginning of the pandemic and offered early data to scientists searching for treatments for COVID.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“It has been a privilege to see the remarkable work being done at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute through the GenOMICC study.

“Patient safety remains key to delivering safe and effective care to all patients every time they access healthcare services and the Scottish Government’s Scottish Patient Safety Programme continues to make progress in its action on sepsis. Focusing on early identification is critical and treatment within one hour of recognition has led to mortality rates among those identified at this stage falling by 21% since 2012.

“The facilities and dedication of the team at the Roslin Institute demonstrates our continued efforts to deliver safe and reliable healthcare – including research into sepsis, a devastating disease. Sepsis Research FEAT play a crucial role in funding this essential research and an incredible job in alerting more people to the symptoms and dangers of the disease.”

Colin Graham, Chief Operating Officer at Sepsis Research FEAT, commented:

“It was a pleasure to meet with the Health Secretary and the GenOMICC study’s exceptional team of researchers at the Roslin Institute. This world-leading study is seeking to discover specific genes that influence how vulnerable we are to sepsis and other illnesses. If scientists can find patterns in our DNA, then this will help us understand what causes someone to become seriously ill or die from sepsis, leading to improved treatments and more lives being saved.

“Sepsis is a devastating condition that can kill a previously healthy adult in hours. Even those who survive sepsis are often left with long term physical or psychological effects. We are very grateful to Mr Yousaf for meeting with us to find out more about the GenOMICC study and the importance of research into sepsis.”

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