Research set to transform next 70 years of NHS care

As the NHS celebrates its 70th anniversary, Edinburgh Medical School highlights its work to shape the future of healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is also taking this opportunity to reflect on key achievements that have improved patient care.

The University’s partnerships with NHS Scotland train healthcare professionals and NHS leaders of tomorrow. Its cutting-edge research has helped to improve patient diagnosis and treatment.

Personalised medicine

University investments in DNA technologies – through the Scottish Genomes Partnership – are helping to make the prospect of personalised healthcare a reality for people in Scotland.

One thousand NHS Scotland patients and their families have been recruited to the scheme, as part of the 100,000 Genomes Project. Of these, more than 400 have already had their entire genetic make-up decoded.

Understanding disease

Findings from the project are helping to improve diagnoses for patients in NHS Scotland, as well as advancing the understanding of rare and common diseases including cancer.

Experts say the gene technology offers one of the biggest opportunities in today’s NHS, delivering precise information that is changing the management of diseases. It could ultimately enable prevention of diseases.

Data saves lives

In addition to genetic research, the University is leading the Scotland site of a £54 million initiative, Health Data Research UK, to address challenging healthcare issues through data science – using large amounts of information to reach meaningful insights.

With secure access to more than 5 million patient records in Scotland, this research is helping to better understand complex diseases such as diabetes and cancer and is improving patient care.

Leading research

These projects are powered by successful partnerships with NHS Scotland, in place since the health service was launched.

The University and NHS Lothian’s clinical research was rated in the top five in the UK for quality and breadth in the most recent assessment of research excellence.

We are delighted to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS and to highlight the importance of clinical research to individuals and to the future of the NHS. These important examples highlight how medical research in Scotland is changing people’s lives and leading to improvements in the NHS.

Professor Moira WhyteHead of the Medical School


Research carried out in Edinburgh may save the NHS almost £300 million each year, according to a 2015 report.

Edinburgh Medical School and NHS Lothian studies have saved lives in more than 100 countries and improved healthcare for millions of people, it found.

Key achievements

  • Edinburgh researchers have provided evidence to reduce the use of blood transfusions during surgery, saving precious blood donations and around £100 million each year.
  • Edinburgh’s stroke research has improved both diagnosis and treatment of the condition, saving thousands of lives and helping thousands more to avoid disability.
  • Women’s health research has widened access to the so-called morning-after pill, cutting rates of unwanted pregnancies, and developed safe non-surgical termination techniques.
  • Heart experts helped to cut heart attack rates and save lives with a user-friendly scoring system – now adopted in 55 countries – that helps doctors identify patients at the highest risk.
  • Fertility preservation research is helping to give thousands of young cancer survivors hope of having a family of their own.

Edinburgh Medical School

Edinburgh Medical School is co-located with the Royal Infirmary at Edinburgh Bioquarter, a £400 million health and life sciences campus.

The site boasts world-leading medical imaging facilities, an accredited unit for clinical trials and specialised labs for producing cell-based therapies that are safe for patient use.

Related links

Edinburgh Medical School

College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

NHS at 70 Exhibition in the University Library

Who wants to be a GP

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