Professor Christopher Goodnow (Garvan) and Professor Ido Amit (Weizmann Institute)
25 August 2016
On Friday (19 August), the Garvan Institute of Medical Research welcomed Professor Ido Amit, who was visiting the Institute from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science. Prof Amit’s visit cemented the recently announced strategic partnership between Garvan and the Weizmann Institute, and provided an opportunity to discuss specific areas of new and ongoing collaboration between the two institutes.
Prof Amit met with senior staff at Garvan for broad-ranging discussions around collaboration between the two institutes. Key topics included staff and student exchange, the use of immunogenomics to understand the complexity of immunological responses in cancer and other diseases, and the potential for clinical genome sequencing informed by extensive clinical databases held by the Weizmann Institute.
In his seminar presentation, Prof Amit addressed Garvan researchers on the topic, “The power of one: Immunology in the age of single-cell genomics”. His presentation focused on his laboratory’s work in analysing immune system function at single-cell resolution.
Prof Amit described the remarkable medical research potential of cellular genomics – the measurement of the activity of the genome in thousands of individual cells. He discussed how the technique can reveal, for example, dramatic changes in response to bacteria in our gut that are likely to precede food allergy; changes in cells that infiltrate a cancer; changes in brain cells that precede dementia; and the incredible diversity of immune cells that were previously thought to be of one type. In all these examples, cellular genomics can highlight entirely new opportunities for clinical intervention.
Professor Christopher Goodnow (Garvan’s Deputy Director), who hosted Prof Amit, said the talk showed how cellular genomics was central to the future of biomedical research.
“For Garvan researchers, it was a huge inspiration to hear about the ground-breaking work being done by Professor Amit and others at the Weizmann Institute.
“We are in the process of establishing a joint centre for research in this fast-moving field – the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics – and, more broadly, we have committed to a broad and enduring partnership between the two institutes.
“Professor Amit’s visit provided an ideal opportunity to determine how the research strengths of the two institutes can create synergies. In particular, we welcome the Weizmann Institute’s strengths in single-cell genomics and other key emerging technologies – and we look forward to sharing Garvan’s expertise in single cell analysis in cancer and diseases of immunity, bone, brain and metabolism, and in cancer genomics, epigenetics and whole genome sequencing.”
Prof Amit toured Level 11 of The Kinghorn Cancer Centre – the site of the forthcoming Garvan-Weizmann Centre – with Prof Goodnow. He also spoke with staff at Garvan’s flow cytometry facility, and with Garvan researchers who are likely to be involved in collaborative projects between the two institutes.
The Executive Director of Garvan, Professor John Mattick AO, said, “The partnership between Garvan and Weizmann is a major development that brings two outstanding research institutes together to address major problems in understanding human biology and disease, and is another example of the global reach of both.”