1 June 2016
Australia's aspirations towards a global leadership role in personalised medicine have been further supported by news that the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government is providing AU$7.3 million funding to establish a new clinical genomic service in Canberra.
The new Canberra Clinical Genomics centre will be a partnership between the Centre for Personalised Immunology at the Australian National University (ANU) and ACT Health. Canberra Clinical Genomics Director Professor Matthew Cook of ANU Medical School said that the centre 'enables doctors and researchers to collaborate to implement what is truly 21st Century medicine'.
The expectation is that the capacity for genomic analysis will be used primarily to investigate children with serious diseases, cancer patients and those with severe immune conditions in order to try to determine the most appropriate treatments in each case.
Clearly, there is enthusiasm that Canberra should keep pace with the world-renowned Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW). The Garvan possesses a premier high-throughput genome sequencing facility, leads the AU$24 million Sydney Genomics Collaborative and is also said to be leading plans for an Australian 100,000 Genomes Project initiative.
Further funding of AU$3.2 million for the Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project links the Garvan with the Zero Childhood Cancer Program for the diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancers and will support whole genome sequencing and analysis for hundreds of NSW children with high-risk cancers (those with poor prognoses).
Neighbouring Australian state Victoria also has the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance launched in 2014, which was awarded AU$25 million from the state government earlier this year to create a state-wide genomic sequencing programme for patients with rare diseases and cancer.