Birmingham is to be at the forefront of a pioneering project using DNA which could transform the way people with cancer and rare diseases are treated.

Hospitals from across the region will take part in the initiative led by the West Midlands Genomics Medicine Centre (WM GMC).

If successful, the project could lead to the development of "personalised" drugs and help predict if someone will fall victim to a specific disease.

Officials believe that the diversity of the Midlands’ population will mean the results will play a key role.

The three-year project, which has been announced by the NHS, is aiming to collect and decode 100,000 human genomes – complete sets of people’s genes – that will enable scientists and doctors to understand more about specific conditions.

The WM GMC, led by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust with the University of Birmingham as its academic partner, is hoping to contribute 18,000 of the genomes.

Professor Dion Morton, acting director of the WM GMC, said: "We are delighted to be a key part of this ground-breaking national project.

"The West Midlands' diverse population, coupled with the rich expertise of our collaborative colleagues, has the potential to put the region at the centre of genomics world-wide. The 100,000 project provides the impetus to develop genomics analysis as a core component of specialist hospital services. In the West Midlands, we will be embedding this across 18 different hospitals.

"It can provide a platform that will transform hospital specialist service, initiate world class research and link up services across the WM region enabling highest quality care to be provided at all centres across a wide range of conditions."

The collaboration will be underpinned by the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) which brings together innovation and knowledge to improve the health and wealth of the population of the West Midlands.

Dr Chris Parker, managing director of the WMAHSN, said: "This is a fantastic outcome for the West Midlands. Our success is down to the fact that we presented such a complete and collaborative bid.

"Needless to say, this is just the beginning. There is a great deal of work still to do but the benefits for the West Midlands will be enormous. Not only will patients gain from the transformation in diagnosis and treatment for cancer and rare diseases, but the regional healthcare system will profit from closer working.

"By working in partnership, we can prepare our workforce to operate in a transformed health environment for the ultimate benefit of our patients and the population as a whole, as well as exploiting the better sharing of data for research and other purposes and creating jobs for the local economy."

Dr Trevor Cole, consultant in clinical and cancer genetics and honorary reader in medical genetics, said: "The West Midlands Genomics Medicine Centre will transform the diagnostic process and disease specific management for patients with rare diseases, which collectively affect one in 17 of the population.

"Our unique proposal to deliver this across 18 trusts in the West Midlands will accelerate the application of genomic technologies by the widest range of healthcare professionals anywhere in the NHS and enhance accessibility to the 21st century care across the whole region."

The project could improve the prediction and prevention of disease, enable new and more precise diagnostic tests, and allow personalisation of drugs.

Around 75,000 people will be involved nationally. Recruitment to the project will begin in February 2015.

** Also taking part will Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Wye Valley NHS Trust, Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Shrewsbury Hospitals NHS Trust, Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust.