Government grants genomics

The future of individually personalised medicines has received a significant boost with the Government’s announcement of $65 million to fund genomics research.

Announcing the funding, Health Minister Greg Hunt said the money will be channeled into competitive research grants for Australia’s best and brightest researchers to unlock the power of personalised medicine through genomics, potentially finding cures for cancer, children’s illnesses and diseases with low survival rates.

Genomics means each patient having their particular disease individually tested through what is known as genomic sequencing, a new type of medical treatment that looks deep into each patient’s cells. As part of the process, their unique DNA is analysed to work out how to target and destroy the cancer or disease.

This approach means researchers can find out what medicine might work for that disease in that particular patient, resulting in a tailored treatment based on the individual.

The grants are the first competitive call for applications under the Federal Government’s $500 million Genomics Health Futures Mission, announced in last year’s budget.

Mr Hunt said this Mission will help save and transform the lives of more than 200,000 Australians through research into better testing, diagnosis and treatment.

Researchers will be able to apply for grants for a range of projects to develop the research evidence for implementing genomics knowledge and technology delivering better targeted treatments and diagnostic methods, avoiding unnecessary health costs and improving patient care and outcomes.

Funding will be available over three years from 2019–20 to 2021–22 for research into:

  • Cancers (including lung cancer and mesothelioma) and diseases with high mortality and low survivability ($15 million);
  • Paediatric acute care genomic research for critically ill children ($15 million);
  • Ethical, legal and social issues related to genomics in health care ($3.7 million).

Funding will be available over four years from 2019-20 to 2022-23 for flagships for:

  • Pathogen genomics, including infectious respiratory diseases ($32 million).

The grants will also encourage collaboration and multidisciplinary teams to work together to answer complex genomics research questions.

The Genomics Health Futures Mission is the centrepiece of the Government’s $1.3 billion National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan and is funded by the Medical Research Future Fund.

The Mission Steering Committee has delivered an Operational Plan to Government outlining a structure and roadmap for the Genomics Mission and will continue to guide the Mission’s work under the leadership of Professor Ian Frazer AC.

The Projects Grant opportunity will open on 28 March 2019 and the Pathogen Genomics Grants opportunity will open on 14 May 2019.

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