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08 May 2018

BUDGET 2018: A new national genomics mission for Australia

Garvan welcomes the announcement, in the newly released Federal Budget, of a new $500M genomics mission for Australia. The new mission seeks to save or transform the lives of more than 200,000 Australians through research into better testing, diagnosis and treatment.

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research warmly welcomes the announcement of the Australian Genomics Health Futures Mission, a major new national genomics initiative for Australia. The mission was announced last night by Treasurer Scott Morrison, as part of the 2018 Federal Budget. It forms the cornerstone of the $1.3 billion National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan.

The Department of Health says the $500 million mission will involve:

  • new and expanded clinical flagship studies to tackle rare diseases, rare cancers and complex conditions;
  • new clinical trials and technology applications allowing Australian patients to benefit from the latest medical research;
  • increased academic and researcher collaboration and new career pathways;
  • co-investment with philanthropy and business to support new industries;
  • community dialogue to better understand the value of genomics and gain appreciation of the privacy, legal, social and familial impact; and
  • analytical power backed by national standards and protocols that ensure secure data holdings, access, analysis and sharing to benefit Australians.

The mission’s first project will be ‘Mackenzie’s Mission’ – a new $20 million trial in pre-conception screening for rare and debilitating genetic birth disorders.

Funding for the genomics mission will be sourced from the Medical Research Future Fund, and is the largest single disbursement to date from the fund.

Professor Chris Goodnow, who today succeeds Professor John Mattick as Garvan’s Executive Director, says that a national approach to genomic medicine is just what the doctor ordered for Australia.

“This is a vital and timely national initiative, with immense opportunity to improve Australians’ lives.

“We have long believed that ambitious and strategic genomics projects succeed best when there is cooperation across Australia, and throughout the medical research and healthcare sectors.

“Already, Australian clinicians and researchers are working closely together in this space through the Sydney Genomics Collaborative and other state-based alliances, the Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Program and the Australian Genomics Health Alliance. There are a number of truly exciting national programs that are making real the promise of personalised medicine through genomics.

“Some things are best handled at scale. This new initiative gives us all the opportunity to contribute to something great, and take a truly strategic approach to the development of genomic medicine.”

A/Prof Marcel Dinger, head of Garvan’s Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics is thrilled with the direction of this national approach.

“Since 2012, we’ve been laying the foundations for clinical genomics in Australia, within both state-based and national intitiatives,” A/Prof Dinger says. “This funding brings closer a future where genomic information can be routinely used to inform healthcare decisions.

“We are working passionately with organisations globally to enable the integration of genomic technologies into medicine and healthcare – and to build the digital infrastructure that can make genomics in the clinic a reality.”

The national initiative announcement builds on ambitious publications in the last year from Innovation and Science Australia, the Australian Council of Learned Academies, and the federal Department of Health.

Garvan’s outgoing Executive Director, Professor John Mattick, says that the announcement couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Garvan strongly supports the idea of a national approach to genomics and precision medicine. We’re proud of our leading role in the development of clinical genomics in Australia, and of our role in the global effort to transform healthcare with genomic information.

“I’m excited about the news – not only will it benefit the health of Australians now and in the future, but it will ensure that Australia remains at the forefront of the genomics revolution that is already disrupting healthcare.

“There is so much expertise here in Australia – and my hope is that this new initiative will leverage that depth of world-class knowledge and experience.”

The news is well timed for Prof Mattick, who today finishes his time at the helm at Garvan, ahead of a move to become the CEO of Genomics England, which is driving the UK’s national genomics initiative, the 100,000 Genomes Project.


Find out more

Read Minister Greg Hunt’s statement

View the fact sheet on the Australian Genomics Health Futures Mission

Learn about the Garvan Global Genomics Report