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07 Feb 2019

The Federal Government has allocated $10 million to Murdoch University to invest in research that will help use a person’s DNA and their environment to create personalised medicine for numerous medical conditions including obesity, autism, and type 2 diabetes.

The funding will go to the Perth-based Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) at Murdoch University, which is set to revolutionise the diagnosis, prevention and precision treatment of numerous medical conditions.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said precision and personalised medicine promises to transform the way we practice medicine.

“This will bring the best and the brightest to save lives, to protect lives. This will help to harness the power of technology and the brilliance of people like Professor Jeremy Nicholson and Professor Elaine Holmes (the leaders of the ANPC),” the Minister said.

“A person’s phenome is a snapshot of their unique biology that results from complex interactions between their DNA and their environment, which includes factors relating to diet, lifestyle and exposure to pollutants.

“Analysing these biological ‘fingerprints’ helps researchers better understand the underlying causes of disease and ultimately to develop personalised therapies and treatments.

“Using the ANCP’s sophisticated range of cutting-edge technologies, researchers plan to map the phenomes of large sections of the population, giving them a window into environmental and social factors influencing health trends and providing generations with a ‘crystal ball’ to look into their future health risks.”

Researchers will have a particular focus on the detection, treatment and prevention of obesity, autism, and type 2 diabetes among children and the Australian Indigenous population.

The ANPC is Australia’s first dedicated metabolic phenotyping laboratory and a hub within an international network of compatible centres.

In addition, Western Australia provides a unique, contained population to collect such information from and has a history of successful population studies.

“The Centre brings together all five Western Australian universities and leading health and medical research institutes: the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Murdoch University, University of Notre Dame Australia and Edith Cowan University,” Mr Hunt said.

The funding comes from the Government’s Medical Research Future Fund, which is an endowment fund that will mature at $20 billion, providing a sustainable source of funding for vital medical research.

Murdoch University welcomed $10 million in Federal Government support, saying it will place Western Australia at the forefront of international precision medicine research.

Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen acknowledged the Government support for the major WA-collaborative project, saying it was a significant investment into the future health of people in WA, Australia, and millions more around the world.

“This ground-breaking research will revolutionise the way in which many challenging diseases and health conditions are diagnosed, treated and prevented,” Professor Leinonen said.

“The ANPC will put WA and the nation on the global stage, pioneering research that will translate into transformational benefits across human health, animal health, agriculture and food.”


Published: 07 Feb 2019