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UK, Thailand Governments Sign Genomics Partnership

NEW YORK – The UK Department of Health and Social Care on Friday announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Thai government that will see both parties share expertise around genomic research.

Under the terms of the agreement, the countries will share genome sequencing expertise, and collaborate on research, education, training, knowledge exchanges, and data management. Together, they also will study rare and undiagnosed diseases and cancer and develop academic and institutional links — activities that could begin as soon as next month.

Additionally, the UK and Thailand will work to share information obtained from Genomics Thailand's 50,000 Genome Initiative and the UK's 100,000 Genomes Project. Genomics Thailand was established in 2019 with the goal of obtaining genome sequence data for 50,000 Thai individuals.

Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said in a statement that the partnership builds on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that collaboration with international partners such as Thailand is "crucial to building our own resilience to health threats," and crediting Thailand for its "world-leading genomics capabilities."

Harries noted that the pandemic "demonstrated clearly how vital genomic surveillance is" for global public health measures, and said the partnership will strengthen the UK's ability to monitor and react to new threats.

Anutin Charnvirakul, Thai's minister for public health, stated that the agreement is the first such partnership between Thailand's ministry of public health and DHSC. Charnvirakul said it "marks an important step for genomics collaboration between the two countries."