The University of Andrews has established a new institute to secure earlier diagnosis of cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental health and infection and help address current inequalities.

Early diagnosis is critical to achieving the best treatment outcomes, yet diseases are much 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 US 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.

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.

It 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.

“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,” said University Principal, Professor Sally Mapstone.

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