COLLABORATION

Illumina partnership to drive genomics innovation in Australia

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The University of Melbourne has teamed up with one of the world’s leading biotech companies, Illumina, to form a partnership that will “serve as a catalyst for innovation” in genome based biomedical research.

The University of Melbourne has teamed up with one of the world’s leading biotech companies, Illumina, to form a partnership that will “serve as a catalyst for innovation” in genome based biomedical research.

To seal the deal, the number one university in Australia and Illumina signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to work together to increase genomics innovation and investigate how it can be translated and adopted into the healthcare system to improve patient outcomes.

The next stage will see the partnership broaden beyond genomics, into a wider range of clinical areas with the aim of demonstrating their health and economic benefits.

“A partnership with a world-leading genomics company like Illumina will serve as a catalyst for innovation across Melbourne’s Biomedical Precinct,” University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor, Professor Duncan Maskell, said in a statement.

“It strongly supports the University’s objective to collaborate with industry partners and develop programmes that can make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Genomics is a field of biology that focuses on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes – an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes.

The discipline is incredibly important for global health and advances in the field have literally changed the world. Genomics is helping researchers discover why some people get sick from certain infections, environmental factors, and behaviours, while others do not.

Both the University of Melbourne and Illumina hope to build on progress in the field of cancer and hope the partnership could eventually lead to a range of benefits for oncology patients, including better treatment, improved testing in hospitals and access to drugs in clinical trials.

Their approach will be based on a four-pillared approach, including international reach, clinical utility, data generation and talent development.

Vice President and General Manager for Illumina Asia Pacific and Japan, Gretchen Weightman, said the growth in genomics research and the benefits that come with it are behind the company’s decision to partner up with the University of Melbourne.

“The current momentum in genomics research is growing exponentially and we are inspired by the way it can stimulate job growth and economic activity to maximise the impact for Victoria and more importantly fuel research with the potential to improve health outcomes for patients,” she said.

The Melbourne Biomedical Precinct will provide a co-research workspace for the team throughout the partnership, and is located in Parkville, Melbourne.

The move to the co-working innovation cluster will further spur innovation within the wider research community. The Precinct is made up of over 40 hospitals, research, teaching and biotechnology organisations.

According to the Precinct website, its biomedical capabilities are unparalleled in Australia and amongst the world’s best. They are home to a network of skilled workers, quality education providers, leading research institutes and a sophisticated health system.

“Illumina’s Australia team is thrilled to be moving into the Biomedical Precinct later this year,” said Weightman.

“Our hope is that co-location with the wider research community, and collaboration with the University of Melbourne, will enable a deeper engagement in collaborative research activities and clinical trials.”