Australia has fast-growing capability in genomics (healthcare informed by greater knowledge of our DNA) and precision or personalised medicine (tailored disease prevention and treatment that takes into account an individual's genes, environment, and lifestyle). [9]

Seventy-five per cent of Australians would be willing to use genetic testing to identify the most effective drug to treat their disease. Of those people, 95 per cent said they are willing for their results to be used to improve treatments for future patients. [10]

Capacity in research and innovation

Australia is home to several comprehensive cancer care centres such as Australian Genomics in Victoria, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Victoria and the Kinghorn Cancer Centre at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in NSW.

These Australian research centres and universities, and others like them, are informing national clinical and research programs on the implementation of genomic medicine in cancer therapy and rare genetic diseases.

Each year, Australia’s field of researchers is growing its capacity in genomic sequencing and analysis, and in the study of disease mechanism (functional genomics) and therapeutic development.

Australian researchers view international collaboration and partnerships as an important accelerator in advancing this vital work.

One example is a strategic partnership to further cancer research and treatment between Varian, a leading US manufacturer of medical devices and software, and GenesisCare, Australia’s largest private provider of cancer care . Utilising Varian’s expertise in image-guided technology and GenesisCare’s experience in clinical and research domains, the companies will partner on hardware and software development including developing image-guided treatment monitoring solutions in molecular targeted radiation (theranostics).

Genomics company BGI (China) has also strengthened ties with Australia by opening an Asia-Pacific headquarters in Brisbane at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, a world-leading medical research precinct. BGI is undertaking R&D with CSIRO, Griffith University and James Cook University.

Strong industry sector: Australian Genomics

Australian Genomics is an 80-partner national research collaboration at the junction of research and clinical care.

To integrate genomics into healthcare, Australian Genomics is providing the evidence needed to transform the diagnostic process, inform the healthcare workforce, and to show how genomics is best delivered in the clinical setting.

Australian organisations applying precision medicine include:

  • 3D imaging and printing solutions such as Bespoke Medical Innovations’ custom replacement knee joints
  • BioPen - which allows surgeons to draw live cells and growth factors directly onto the site of an injury.

Committed public-sector spending

The Australian Government is committed to the Medical Technology, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical (MTP) sector through the $1.3 billion National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan .[11] Part of this plan includes contributing $500 million over 10 years to research missions conducted by members of Australian Genomics to improve testing, diagnosis and treatment.

The first project is Mackenzie’s Mission (The Australian Reproductive Carrier Screening Project). Announced in the May 2018 Federal Budget, this $20 million research study examines reproductive genetic carrier screening for about 500 severe and life-limiting genetic conditions including spinal muscular atrophy, fragile X syndrome and cystic fibrosis.

The Australian Government, backed by the research and medical community, is committed to further integrating genomics into the health system through the 2018-21 framework .

[9] US Food and Drug Administration. Precision Medicine
[10] Research Australia, Opinion Polling 2018, Australia Speaks! 2018: opinion polling for health and medical research, accessed 14 January 2019.
[11] National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan –
Australian Genomics Health Futures Mission