Lions Club Governors see firsthand the power of partnership with Garvan

Governors of Lions Australia have visited Garvan to learn more about the Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project, a $4 million collaborative project that will sequence the genomes of 400 Australian children with high-risk cancer.
16 January 2017

A powerful $4 million partnership between the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) and the Australian Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation (ALCCRF) to combat children’s cancer is underway, and on Friday (13 January), Lions Governors for 2017-18 and their families heard firsthand of the tremendous impact the Project is likely to have.

The Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project will provide whole genome sequencing and analysis of tumour and normal tissue for 400 children with high-risk cancer in Australia.

A collaborative partnership, the three-year Project brings together state-of-the-art capability in whole genome sequencing and analysis at Garvan and Australia’s national personalised medicine program in childhood cancer – the Zero Childhood Cancer Program, led by the Children’s Cancer Institute and the Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.

Lions Australia National Chairperson Rodd Chignell said the opportunity to hear first-hand about the groundbreaking approach to personalised treatment for childhood cancer was exciting.

“We’re Lions because we want to make a difference – and the Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project will create an invaluable database of genetic drivers behind individual cancers, supporting clinicians in determining the best possible treatment of each child,” Mr Chignell said.

“It will also create an invaluable database of genetic risk factors that will help with the future development of prevention and treatment strategies.”

“This is an incredibly powerful step towards curing childhood cancer, the most common cause of disease-related death in Australian children. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to hold our Lions Australia Meeting at the Garvan Institute and to hear first-hand from these medical research pioneers.”

Brad Timms, Head of Fundraising at the Garvan Research Foundation, said, “It’s a privilege to welcome the incoming Lions Australia Governors to Garvan. I look forward to working with them throughout the year to raise funds for the Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project.

“This transformative partnership wouldn’t be possible without the visionary generosity of LCIF and ALCCRF and the enthusiastic participation of Lions members.”

Whole genome sequencing examines the genome – the entire complement of genetic information contained within the DNA in our cells, including more than 20,000 genes. In the Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project, whole genome sequencing will be carried out on tumour DNA (to identify the genetic changes associated with a given cancer) as well as on DNA from normal tissue (to help identify genetic sequences that might predispose to cancer). By studying an individual’s genome, it is possible to develop personalised treatment programs that integrate this genetic information with other biological and clinical data. Genome sequencing and analysis for the Project will be carried out at Garvan’s Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics, which is the largest genome sequencing facility in the southern hemisphere.