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Putting genomics to work

Medical specialists in paediatric neurology will be first in 2019 to benefit from the Alliance’s genomics upskilling workshops – with a long list of workshops to follow through the year.

Two sessions of Putting Genomics into Neurodevelopmental Paediatrics will be held, at The Royal Children's Hospital on 14 February and Monash Children’s Hospital on 19 February.

Paediatric neurologist A/Prof Richard Leventer from The Royal Children’s Hospital is a co-organiser and facilitator of the RCH workshop, with clinical geneticist A/Prof Sue White (VCGS) and genetic counsellor, Lisette Curnow. The 19 February event will be led by Monash clinical geneticist Dr Emma Krzesinski,  and Dr Michael Fahey, Head of Paediatric Neurology at Monash Medical Centre.

“These workshops will be crucial to educate, upskill and inform clinicians about the promises, processes and limitations of genomic sequencing techniques,” said A/Prof Leventer, who also recently joined Melbourne Genomics as Genomics Champion for the Melbourne Children’s Campus.

“We hope participants will gain an understanding of current available genomic techniques and indications for different techniques,” he said. “In addition, the sessions will explore the role of the non-geneticist in interpretation of results and specific applications to child neurology.”

These practical workshops have been designed specifically for consultants, trainees and genetic counsellors working in the fields of paediatric neurology, developmental paediatrics and metabolic medicine.

A/Prof Leventer said attendees would also learn the relative cost of different technologies, as well as the limitations of these tests and common errors made in ordering or interpreting genomic results.

In his new role with Melbourne Genomics, A/Prof Leventer will research the use of modern genomic technologies in child neurology. “I will also work with others to influence, educate and develop upskilling programs for non-genetic clinicians at RCH,” he said.

Genomic testing is gaining particular prominence in neonatal and paediatric intensive care. Specialists from NICU and PICU will benefit from a workshop scheduled for 13 March, facilitated by clinical geneticists Dr Zornitza Stark and Dr Alison Yeung from Victorian Clinical Genetics Services.

Melbourne Genomics’ Workforce Development Lead, Dr Amy Niselle, said the interest in genomics was increasing and leading to demand for education. “We’ve noticed there’s been a growing interest in and enthusiasm for genomics from clinicians, some from outside the Flagship projects and the Alliance.

“This interest then generates a need for education. These specialist workshops demonstrate to clinicians that genomics is not only an area of research, but has real clinical relevance and utility - right now."