September 23, 2022
Image of baby and mom with doctor

These projects don’t just take genomics forward. They’ll ensure all Australians can benefit from the most exciting field in medicine.

The Medical Research Future Fund is a $20 billion investment in research and innovation. It includes the Genomics Health Futures Mission, a specific stream to improve diagnosis and treatment through genomic medicine.

The mission’s latest round of grants was published this week. These projects take what’s already known about genomics and apply it in ways that will transform everyday care for Australians. They tackle the intricacies of implementation as well as the big-picture issues of ethics and equity.  

Here are the projects where Melbourne Genomics is actively involved.

 

Providing whole-genome sequencing to Victorian babies

Standard newborn screening already detects some childhood conditions that can be treated before becoming fatal or debilitating. Genomic sequencing takes that to the next level, scanning hundreds of genes at a time to help babies and their parents get the healthiest possible start to life.

This project will offer whole-genome sequencing to 1,000 newborns. It will not only establish the benefit of screening children early for treatable conditions, but will consider efficient laboratory workflows, parental consent, and ethical and health economic implications.

A highly-skilled team led by A/Prof Sebastian Lunke and Prof Zornitza Stark from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and the Victorian Clinical Genetics Services will deliver this project.

 

Ethical governance for genomic data

Genomic datasets are massive and complex: the more we collect, the more knowledge is available to improve health care and drive discoveries. But what’s in place to ensure data is managed in an ethical and safe way, that reflects the true diversity of our population?

This project will address ethical, legal and social issues in the governance of genomic datasets, leading to the development of a national genomic data governance framework.

The project team includes experts and organisations from across the country, including Melbourne Genomics members MCRI and the University of Melbourne. It is led by Prof Ainsley Newson from the University of Sydney.

 

Ensuring First Nations peoples benefit from genomic medicine

This Indigenous-led collaboration wants genomics and precision medicine to explicitly benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, rather than deepen existing inequalities.

The National Indigenous Genomics Network will work to develop strong Indigenous governance of genomic data, create data systems that put sovereignty as a priority, and build a workforce of Indigenous genomics researchers and clinicians.

Indigenous populations are not properly represented in genomic medicine. This network aims to improve Indigenous engagement with genomics by building a culturally safe framework.

The project is led by Prof Alex Brown (Telethon Kids Institute and Australian National University) and Prof Daniel MacArthur (Garvan Institute of Medical Research and MCRI). We are proud to support it in Victoria.

 

In total, these projects will receive more than $12 million in funding.

Our congratulations to all the teams involved, and to our member organisations who were successful with their grants. We can’t wait to work with you.

See all projects funded through the Genomic Health Futures Mission.

 

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Melbourne Genomics acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, on whose lands we work, and all First Nations peoples across Victoria. We pay respect to Elders past and present. We also acknowledge the First Nations health professionals, researchers and leaders who are shaping the future of genomic medicine.

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