Today: from $3 billion genome to the $1,000 genome. Tomorrow: your code on your phone?

The International Congress of Genetics returns to Australia


  • 4 pm: Evensong celebrating science and faith at St Pauls Cathedral – more below
  • 6 pm: Congress opening ceremony with Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas, and Congress Chair Kathryn North, Melbourne Convention Centre


  • Capturing the genetic code of every species in the Tree of Life.
  • Nobel Laureate Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, African Biogenome Project leader Anne Muigai, Science Executive Editor Valda Vinson on Women in Science – unique journeys to different peaks, with Jen Martin.

Media welcome

“Twenty years ago, at the International Congress of Genetics in Melbourne, we learnt of the implications of the $3 billion human genome project,” says Professor Phil Batterham, the Congress Co-convenor.

“Today, in Melbourne, your genome can be sequenced for a few thousand dollars in a few days. And the information can be used to identify your risk of disease, and to create a unique treatment for your cancer. What’s next?” he asks.

For the next six days we will hear how genetics has transformed medicine, food, conservation, and almost every area of human activity.

And we’ll hear of what’s coming in the next decade including:

  • Knowing the biological function of every human gene, leading to new treatments
  • Accessing your complete genome in a user-friendly form on your smart phone
  • Collecting DNA from air and water to measure and protect plants and animals and explore the Tree of Life
  • Boosting food production with more resilient crops
  • Equity, bringing the genetic revolution benefits to First Peoples around the world and to the Global South

Media are invited to the opening ceremony, 6 pm Sunday, and to the entire Congress, Monday through Friday with nearly 1,000 talks, presentations and posters.

For accreditation and interviews contact Niall Byrne,, 0417-131-977, or Sarah Brooker,, 0413-332-489.

Full Congress program at

Public program details at

Media releases at

Read on for more information

National Indigenous genomics initiative launch
10 am Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

A national centre launched today will bring the benefits of genomics medicine to Indigenous Australians, who still have a life expectancy 10 years less than the general population.

“80 per cent of this life expectancy gap is due to chronic disease,” says Alex Brown, ALIGN Lead and Professor of Indigenous Genomics at the Telethon Kids Institute and the Australian National University. Alex is a member of the Yuin Nation and grew on the NSW South Coast.

“Australia is on the cusp of a new era in personalised medicine that will bring deeper insights into common diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer,” he says.

“ALIGN is a commitment designed by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people, to offer the benefit of genomic medicine to all,” he says.

“Its basic premise is ‘nothing about us, without us.’ This is critical to ensure equity is achieved in health outcomes,” he says.

ALIGN will be governed by an Indigenous Council to ensure every ‘gift’ of DNA provided by Indigenous Australians is treated with respect.

Full release at

ALIGN media contact: Keryn McKinnon | Telethon Kids Institute | 0448 294 375

Congress media contact: Niall Byrne,, 0417-131-977, or Sarah Brooker,, 0413-332-489.

A Genetic Evensong celebrating science and faith
4 pm St Pauls Cathedral

We will celebrate the wonder of science and faith, with worship led by the Cathedral Choir, a sermon from Archbishop Philip Freier, prayers, and Scripture readings. 

Evensong is a service sung in Anglican churches throughout the world and serves as a quiet reflection at the end of the day.

The service to welcome the Congress is open to all and there will be a sermon by Archbishop Philip Freier. It is jointly hosted by the cathedral and the Institute for the Study of Christianity in an Age of Science and Technology (ISCAST), the oldest and largest science and religion organisation in Australia. 

Archbishop Freier holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science and is a longstanding supporter of science-faith dialogue. In 2009 he spoke at another special service at the cathedral, celebrating Charles Darwin’s 200th birth anniversary.

Find out more at:

Unique journeys to different peaks: Women in Science

  • Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (Germany) who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1995 for “discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development”.
  • Anne Muigai (Kenya) who is the joint leader of the African Biogenome Project that aims to sequence the genomes of 100,000 species of plants and animals endemic to Africa.
  • Valda Vinson (USA) with a research background in Chemistry and Biochemistry, Valda is the Executive Editor of the Science journals published by AAAS.

Moderated by Jen Martin, award winning science communicator, radio host, teacher and ecologist.

Reading the Tree of Life

Mark Blaxter’s UK team have sequenced their first thousand species as part of a bold project to read the genome of every species on Earth.

He will report that some animals throw away some of their DNA in their bodies (retaining it in their germlines).

Also during the week

  • An oratorio on: The origins of the universe, of life, of species, of humanity. Tuesday
  • Are super athletes born or made? A discussion with footballer Darcy Moore, Olympian Melissa Tapper, and geneticist Kathryn North, led by ABC’s Tracey Holmes. Wednesday.
  • Population DNA screening for disease risk is coming – what you need to know, Thursday 
  • The Genetic Rescue of our Fantastic Beasts, Wednesday
  • The Scientific & Spiritual Human, how faith can speak to being humans of the future, Saturday.