Media release from the Australian Alliance for Indigenous Genomics (ALIGN)
A national alliance of the brightest minds in genomic science, academia, policy makers, industry and Indigenous leaders will work to break down barriers to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can benefit from advances in genomic medicine if they choose.
The Australian Alliance for Indigenous Genomics (ALIGN) has been formed to ensure Indigenous Australians are considered and included in the application of genomic medicine – where information from DNA is used to better inform patient risk, diagnosis and care. Supported by Telethon Kids Institute, the Australian National University and 28 other key partners, ALIGN will be governed by an Indigenous Council to ensure every ‘gift’ of DNA provided by Indigenous Australians is treated with respect.
ALIGN Lead Professor Alex Brown, said that advances in genomics must be applied to reducing health inequalities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
“We need to seize this opportunity to ensure that we outline how precision medicine can be delivered at the coalface of primary health care in Indigenous communities and ensure there is equity in the application of genomics,” Professor Brown said.
Professor Brown said the life expectancy of Indigenous Australians was 10 years less than the general population and about 80 per cent of this life expectancy gap is due to chronic disease.
“ALIGN is a first-of-its-kind consortium for Australia. It is a commitment from all groups to collectively develop a framework – designed by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people – to deliver the benefit of genomic medicine to all Australians.
“Its basic premise is ‘nothing about us, without us’. This is critical to ensure equity is achieved in health outcomes.”
ALIGN will be led by centres of excellence across Australia, each coordinating a flagship program to lay the foundations to deliver meaningful health benefits to Indigenous communities. These programs will include pharmacogenomics, precision medicine, immunogenomics, genome variation and rare diseases.
A South Australian ALIGN team, based at Telethon Kids Institute Adelaide, will oversee the scientific and operational coordination of the alliance.
Media contact: Keryn McKinnon | Telethon Kids Institute | 0448 294 375
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland, Griffith University, the Lowitja Institute, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, Garvan Institute for Medical Research, the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, the Kinghorn Cancer Centre, Murdoch Childrens’ Research Institute, WEHI (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research), Melbourne Genomics, the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Health, the National Centre for Indigenous Genomics at the Australian National University, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, CSIRO, Telethon Kids Institute, the University of Western Australia, WA Department of Health, BioPLatforms Australia, Australian Genomics, 23Strands, Thermo Fisher, Illumina and Roche.