New Sheffield centre named after late “inspirational” genetic technologist to help diagnose blood cancer

28 April 2022

A new cancer pre-screening facility has been officially opened at the University of Sheffield in collaboration with the Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. 

The Julia Garnham Centre, named after a former genetic technologist, aims to speed up the time it takes to report cancer results. 

The centre in collaboration commemorates Julia Garnham, who worked for the Genetics Department at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital for over 30 years. 

Former genetic technologist Julia Garnham

Dr Adam Hodgson, academic lead of the Julia Garnham Centre at the University of Sheffield, said: “We named the centre after Julia to inspire our students with her story and to celebrate her wonderful and important contribution to healthcare in our region.”

The new genomic pre-screening facility is based in the University of Sheffield’s Firth Court. It is a new remote NHS work placement facility that provides students with experience and training in genetic analysis during their degrees.

In 2018, Julia Garnham was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away the same year. She helped to diagnose many genetic diseases, including many cancers.

Dr Polly Talley, who works in Haemato oncology at North East and Yorkshire Genomic Laboratory Hub, described Julia as a “wonderful” friend and a colleague who “took enormous pride in her work and was known for completing everything to the very highest of quality.”

She continued: “She was responsible for training large numbers of staff and students at the Genetics Department. She did this with great skill, inspiring students with her enthusiasm, technical ability, understanding and passion for quality.

“The centre has been named after her in recognition of her wonderful work, but also because the centre aims to inspire future students with the same skill and passion that Julia had.”

The training helps students to prepare anonymised cancer cases, preparing them for NHS geneticists in Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust to analyse, speeding up the time it takes to report these types of cancer results.

The centre is based in the University of Sheffield`s Firth Court

Dr Hodgson added: “Together they are able to have a positive impact on the world around them during their degree.”

He further explained the centre creates a space for students, academics from the School of Biosciences at the University of Sheffield, and NHS geneticists to work together.

The centre was established following 8 years of close collaboration between Dr Hodgson and Duncan Baker, lead Clinical Scientist at Sheffield Diagnostic Genetics Service.

The facility received seed funding from the University of Sheffield Faculty of Science.

Written by Hanna Karlsen

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