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Aussie Hospitals, Institutes Launch Genomic Medicine and Research Alliance

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A group of research institutes and hospitals in Australia's state of Victoria have launched a collaboration to implement genomic information in patient care programs, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute said today.

The seven partners unveiled the initiative, the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance, at an event at Royal Children's Hospital.

Along with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Royal Children's, the alliance's members include Melbourne Health; the University of Melbourne; the Murdoch Children's Research Institute; the Australian Genome Research Facility; and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).

Under the alliance, certain hospital patients may have their genomes sequenced, and researchers will analyze their genomes and use the findings in research programs and to inform evidence-based treatment. Clinicians at the member hospitals and researchers at the institutes will have access to these genomic data, and together they will seek to translate research findings into clinical care.

"Armed with this information, we can investigate whether certain DNA variations are responsible for causing disease," Gareth Goodier, CEO of the alliance and of The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said in a statement. "With further research we hope to support more accurate diagnosis and prognosis, identify patients at greater risk of disease or complications, and select and prioritize therapy in the prevention and control of infection outbreaks."

The alliance partners have already begun recruiting patients for the project's first phase, the Hall Institute said. Once the initial project is completed and evaluated, the partners plan to develop and fund a broader program.

The alliance members have laid out a general "five-year vision." They want the program to be clinically driven, conducted ethically, and involve only accredited testing labs, with the aim of rapidly translating genomic research into care and reducing inequities in patient access to genetic testing.

The Hall Institute also said that a community advisory group has been established in connection with the new alliance.

"Ultimately, it is the individuals and families who will benefit from the field of genomics, and so it makes sense that we as consumers help design the system to access this technology," said Liat Harrower, a member of the community advisory group.