Genomic revolution "more than a dream" - top Ideas Grant awarded

Gene therapy has taken centre stage at this year's NHMRC Research Excellence Awards Dinner, with Professor Ian Alexander taking out the 2020 top-ranked Ideas Grant for his innovative genetic research project. 

The project, which is a joint collaboration between the Network and the Children's Medical Research Institute, aims to use gene therapy to develop viral vectors, similar to those used in the treatment of SMA, to help treat a range of currently incurable diseases. 

Gene therapies are ‘genetic medicines’ where healthy copies of genes are delivered into diseased cells to replace or repair faulty genes and therefore treat (or potentially cure) disease. The delivery vehicle for the healthy gene is called a vector (typically modified viruses such as adeno-associated virus (AAV)) and are a key component of this type of therapy.

Recognised as being the most innovative and potentially transformative application to the Ideas Grant scheme, the three-year project was awarded the prestigious Marshall and Warren Award.

Professor Alexander, who is Head of the Gene Therapy Research Unit said the award reflected that we are at the front end of the genomic revolution. 

"This is proof we weren’t just dreamers and symbolic of the power of the genomic revolution’’.

“The gene therapy field is coming of age and earning the scientific respect that it has increasingly deserved. I thank the NHMRC for this award, which is emblematic of the explosion of therapeutic possibilities - which are unlimited,” Professor Alexander said.

Other key contributors to the project include Dr Grant Logan from Children’s Medical Research Institute, co-lead investigator, and associate investigators; Associate Professor Leszek Lisowski (CMRI), Associate Professor Michelle Farrar (SCHN and the University of NSW), Professor Daniel Christ and Dr Joanne Reed (Garvan Institute for Medical Research), and Dr Denis Bauer (CSIRO).

Congratulations to Ian and the team on this fantastic achievement. Read more details about the project on the Kids Research website