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New South Wales Invests $22M in Sydney Genomics Collaborative Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Australian state of New South Wales said today it will invest A$24 million (US$22.4 million) over four years to create a medical genomics research program that will be led by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney.

The NSW Government said today it has provided A$6 million from its 2014-2015 budget to launch this initiative, called the Sydney Genomic Collaborative Program, and at the same time announced more than A$90 million for medical research and development programs that includes support for other genomics projects.

The bulk of the new state funding will go to the Medical Research Support Program (A$44 million), which supports independent research institutes, and the Cancer Institute NSW (A$34 million), which funds translational and clinical research programs across the state.

The state investments also include A$1 million for the Pathogen Genomics Partnerships Program, which will fund pathogen sequencing studies; A$1.5 million to establish a state-wide research approach to biobanks; A$7.7 million for the Medical Devices Fund; and A$448,000 to pay for a postdoctoral fellowship in medical device commercialization.

The Sydney Genomics Collaborative will provide NSW medical researchers with access to whole-genome research tools, including an Illumina HiSeq X Ten housed at the Garvan Institute.

Beyond the sequencing efforts, the collaborative will be comprised of three main components: a Genomics Medical Reference Bank that will house whole-genome sequences compiled from existing cohorts that will serve as controls in disease-specific studies; the NSW Health Collaborative Genomic Medical Research Grants Program, which will fund researchers pursuing whole-genome sequencing projects focused on diseases; and the NSW Cancer Genomic Medicine Program, which will focus on the early detection, prevention, and management of cancer. This initiative will be led by Professor David Thomas, head of Garvan's Cancer Division and director of the Kinghorn Cancer Center, a joint venture between Garvan and St. Vincent's Hospital that is focused on personalized medicine.

Oversight for the Sydney Genomics Collaborative will be provided by a genomic scientific advisory group of researchers, clinicians, statisticians, and ethicists, who will be appointed by the NSW Ministry of Health. The scientific advisory group also will assess applications for research funding.

Garvan Institute Executive Director John Mattick said the collaborative is a far-sighted investment that will position NSW to be a hub for genomics research and medicine.

"It is also timely given that the cost of sequencing has fallen to the point where population-scale genomics research is accessible to a broad community of medical researchers and clinicians," Mattick said in a statement.