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Early diagnosis key to survival

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A new institute, created to help improve earlier diagnosis of cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental health and infection, has been launched at the University of St Andrews.

Early diagnosis is key in effective treatment, yet diseases are far more likely to be diagnosed earlier in affluent areas compared to Scotland’s most deprived communities.

The Sir James Mackenzie Institute for Early Diagnosis Information is an international collaboration including institutions and researchers from Ireland, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, the United States and sub-Saharan Africa, sharing knowledge, skills and ideas with the aim of diagnosing diseases to allow for earlier, and more successful treatment.

The new Institute will be led by Professor Frank Sullivan of the School of Medicine at the University and will focus on three research areas: Health Data Research led by Professor Colin McCowan of the School of Medicine; Digital Diagnostics and Emerging Technologies led by Dr Peter Caie of the School of Medicine; and Biophotonics in Early Diagnosis led by Professor Kishan Dholakia of the School of Physics and Astronomy.

University Principal, Professor Sally Mapstone, said: “Mackenzie was a researcher who made bold decisions, who thought creatively around problems, and who worked in collaboration and across disciplines to find solutions to pressing issues.

“The University’s new institute of early diagnosis will draw upon Sir James’s example to inspire and inform our future.”

The Institute is named after Scottish cardiologist, Sir James Mackenzie (1853-1925), who invented the original polygraph which revolutionised the diagnosis of heart problems by making simultaneous records of the arterial and venous pulses allowing Mackenzie to identity heartbeat anomalies.

The Institute was officially opened yesterday (Monday 23 September) by the Principal of the University, Professor Sally Mapstone, 100 years after Mackenzie opened his own research institute at St Andrews.

The Institute, which will be managed by Karen Hunter, will work with Scottish, UK and local NHS providers and include members of the wider population to create a patient-focused approach.

Interdisciplinary collaboration between medicine, biology, computer science, chemistry, geography and sustainable development, and physics and astronomy, as well as mathematics and statistics will be a key tool of the Institute.

Sir James Mackenzie was born in Scone, near Perth, studied medicine in Edinburgh and eventually left general practice to specialise in the study of cardiac arrhythmias (heartbeat conditions), moving in 1907 to become a consulting physician.

His success led to him being elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1915 and later knighted. He established the Mackenzie Institute of Clinical Research which worked closely with GPs to record symptoms and illnesses of patients and significantly aided scientific development within cardiology.

Image caption (left to right): Professor David Crossman, Dean of Medicine, Dr Daniel Levy, Director of the Framingham Heart Study, Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal of the University, and Professor Frank Sullivan, Director of the Mackenzie Institute

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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