While genomics is a well-established tool of health research across the country, it is a relatively new and disruptive technology to mainstream healthcare. The Government’s decade-long investment in genomics research sets a robust foundation for genomic healthcare to deliver better outcomes for Australians through early disease diagnosis and intervention, and improved clinical management and treatment options.

Australian Genomics is an 80-partner national research collaboration, sitting squarely at the juncture between research and clinical care. The approach ensures that the advancements made in genomics research are translated into, and informed by, clinical care, while allowing researchers to identify the needs of the health system to ensure services, systems and the workforce are equipped to deliver genomic healthcare into the future.

“This announcement is a tangible demonstration of the Government’s vision for the future of Australian healthcare,” said Prof Kathryn North, lead of Australian Genomics and Director at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. “It brings Australia nearer to the scale of investment that we’ve seen for genomic initiatives internationally, and it will deliver such great benefit to Australians.”

The first project to be launched under the Genomics Health Futures Mission is ‘Mackenzie’s Mission’: a $20 million trial in genetic carrier screening for rare and devastating birth disorders, including spinal muscular atrophy.

Research in rare cancers, rare diseases and complex genetic conditions will also receive a boost, with the expansion of clinical trials research and flagship studies in these areas.

Richard Vines is Chair of Australian Genomics’ Community Advisory Group and is the Chief Executive of Rare Cancers Australia – a charity working tirelessly to improve awareness, support and treatment for Australians with rare and less common cancers. Richard said of the budget announcement, “Clinical trials based on genomics and genetic drivers offer patients genuine hope of better outcomes when compared with existing treatments. This new funding is extremely promising to the many Australians battling life-threatening diseases.”

Further details of the Government’s Australian Genomics Health Futures Mission can be found here.

***Update 17 May 2018: A Genomics Health Futures Mission Expert Advisory Committee has been appointed to steer the development of an operational plan for the Mission. See a list of the Committee members here.

About genomics

The genome is our entire genetic information (our DNA), and ‘genomics’ is the study of the genome. ‘Genomic medicine’ is the use of genomic information as part of a patient’s clinical care – for diagnosis, medical management, to identify potential treatments and to help inform decisions of the patient and potentially their family.