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Alliance a winner for kids’ healthcare

Work to improve the health of children with genetic disorders has earned Melbourne Genomics and our partners a win at the 2017 Victorian Public Healthcare Awards.

The award for ‘Improving Children’s Health’ was won by the project, ‘Pioneering clinical genomics in undiagnosed children’, awarded jointly to Victorian Clinical Genetics Services (VCGS), Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance and the Royal Children’s Hospital.

‘Melbourne Genomics provided the opportunity to implement genomic sequencing in our clinics and evaluate the impact of this on the healthcare of children with genetic conditions,’ said Associate Professor Sue White of Victorian Clinical Genetics Services (VCGS), who headed up the award-winning project.

‘Although individually these conditions are rare, collectively they affect 1 in 12 Australians – many of them children, and many spending years undergoing often invasive testing in the search for a diagnosis. Genomics can dramatically short-cut this process.’

With colleagues, Associate Professor Tiong Tan and Dr Zornitza Stark, Associate Professor White’s cross-institutional team has shown that genomic sequencing results in more than half of children tested gaining a diagnosis, up to a seven-fold improvement on traditional testing. Medical care was also changed for 28 percent of diagnosed patients, leading to care better suited to these individuals’ conditions.

‘An important finding of this work is that five times more diagnoses were recorded for infants with genetic disorders, at 75 percent less cost to the healthcare system. This evidence has since led to an allocation of $8.3 million from the Victorian Government over the next four years, to improve access to genomic testing for children and adults with rare conditions and diseases,’ said Melbourne Genomics Executive Director, Clara Gaff. ‘I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in this win, and for all the positive outcomes for patients that continue to flow from this work.’

Alliance members Melbourne Health, Monash Health, the Royal Children’s Hospital, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre also were among the winners and commended projects at the 2017 Victorian Public Healthcare Awards, announced on 26 October.

[Image: The award is presented to (from left to right) Associate Professor Tiong Tan, Dr Zornitza Stark, Associate Professor Sue White and Dr Sebastian Lunke.]