Major grant to build world’s first precision medicine research centre for infants and children

October 21, 2015

Dr Andrew CurrieThe world’s first centre specialising in precision medicine for infants and young children has been funded at Murdoch University.

Dr Andrew Currie, Senior Lecturer in Immunology and Associate Professor Rob Trengove, Scientific Director of the Separation Science and Metabolomics Laboratory at Murdoch University have received $473,000 in funding from the WA Department of Health to establish the WA Phenome Centre, Australia’s first centre for advanced metabolic phenotyping in infants and children.

Working in collaboration with Professor Mark Everard (UWA, Princess Margaret Hospital, Telethon Kids Institute) and Professor Jeremy Nicholson (Imperial College London), the Murdoch researchers were one of only three recipients of the Telethon – Perth Children’s Hospital Research Fund Strategic Initiatives, which were announced recently by WA Health Minister, Dr Kim Hames.

“We would like to acknowledge and thank the Channel 7 Telethon Trust and the Department of Health for their investment in the WA Phenome Centre initiative, which is the first of its kind in Australia,” Dr Currie said.

The WA Phenome Centre will provide doctors and researchers with the first centre of its kind in Australia and indeed the first in the world focusing specifically on infants and young children.

“The centre will help develop rapid testing to identify infection in vulnerable pre-term infants at a very early stage to prevent serious life threatening infections, as well as rapid bed side diagnostic testing in older children, that will provide doctors with accurate information as to whether antibiotics are required in a child with a respiratory infection,” continued Dr Currie.

“These tests will greatly reduce the use of unnecessary antibiotics while ensuring those who need them receive them appropriately.”

The centre utilises the latest technological advances in the field of metabolomics, which studies the unique chemical fingerprints that are produced by cells in the body during both health and disease.

It is anticipated that this approach will contribute the biggest advances in diagnostic tests in the coming decade.

The centre will not only be the focus of world class research but will be ensuring the findings are translated into routine practice through the provision of appropriate training to doctors and scientists.

The centre will also immediately link WA researchers with an international network of world-leading Phenome Centres in North America, Europe and Asia, and will be the only international centre focussed specifically on infant and child health.

The WA Phenome Centre will commence in 2015 with the appointment of an internationally recognised Phenome Specialist. Work will begin on five key research projects ranging from preterm infant sepsis, childhood ear disease, lung infections and cardiovascular development in January 2016.

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