Monash researchers awarded $1m in funding to address issues in genomics health care

Monash University researchers have received almost $1 million in grants from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) as part of its Genomics Health Futures Mission, for projects involving the use of genomics in testing, diagnosis and treatment of people living with cancers and diseases.

Provost and Senior Vice-President, Professor Marc Parlange, said the results demonstrated the breadth of Monash University’s research.

“These latest outcomes from Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund demonstrate the remarkable scope of Monash’s leadership in the health sciences, with projects awarded across the STEM disciplines as well as the humanities, arts and social sciences. My warmest congratulations to everyone involved.”

Genomics uses a person’s own genetic makeup to analyse and understand their disease or cancer and unlock personalised treatments that specifically target their disease.

Two Monash projects that focus on the ethical, legal and social issues around genomics, including regulation, have been funded in the latest MRFF round. They are:

Preventing mitochondrial disease using genomics

Professor Catherine Mills, Monash Bioethics Centre, School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, Faculty of Arts

  • This project aims to increase public trust in genomic technologies used to diagnose and prevent mitochondrial disease by developing a best practice framework for their use and implementation in Australia.
  • It will provide a comprehensive analysis of the ethical, legal and social issues that arise in this domain, foster understanding of mitochondrial disease and genomics in the medical and wider Australian community, and present a comprehensive view of current practice in reproductive genomics for mitochondrial disease.
  • The best practice framework it develops will guide clinical practice and shape policy and regulation of the provision of reproductive genomics for mitochondrial disease.

Moratorium on Genetic Testing and Life Insurance: Monitoring the impact

Dr Paul Lacaze, ASPREE, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

  • This project will collect evidence to inform the scheduled 2022 review of the current industry-led moratorium on the use of genetic test results in life insurance, effective July 2019. Currently, no institution, industry or government body is responsible for monitoring the appropriateness or effectiveness of the moratorium, and this project will serve that critical function.
  • The project’s final report will aim to help shape recommendations and inform future policy in Australia. Achieving adequate regulation in this area is essential to ensure public trust. This will, in turn, affect public uptake of genomic testing and participation in genomic research.

Independent grant selection committees were established to peer review and assess applications that were received for competitive grant opportunity. To see the full list of funded projects from the Australian Government, view the media release.