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Partnering for solutions to child and parent health and wellbeing

a family with a new born baby

 

Getting a world-leading research project like GenV off the ground was only possible with the strong support of partner organisations. One such partner, the Paul Ramsay Foundation, was there at the start. 

 In order for GenV to reach its present status as a fully statewide research project with a cohort already numbering in the tens of thousands, it was important for the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) to partner with a unique funder, explained MCRI Director Kathryn North.  

“GenV is a visionary project and aims to completely overhaul our approach to health and medical research to ensure we are able to predict, prevent and treat common health problems more quickly than ever before. But to get to this point, we needed a partner willing to take risks to help us achieve something that hasn’t been done before at this level of scale with inclusivity.”  

“The Paul Ramsay Foundation believed whole-heartedly in our mission from the beginning and GenV simply wouldn’t be possible without their support,” she said. 

North continued, “Every parent wants the next generation to be better off than they were. GenV aims to re-define how we solve complex development problems, including those stemming from disadvantage.” 

North said the Foundation’s support of GenV enabled the development of the IT and data platform, biobanking infrastructure and capabilities to support one of the world’s largest child and parent cohorts. 

Paul Ramsay Foundation’s Chief Portfolio Officer, Abhilash Mudaliar explained that by investing in IT, data and biobanking technology and infrastructure, areas that are often not supported by medical research grants, it would give visibility into a state-wide birth-cohort resulting in far greater understanding of the drivers of health outcomes for families from a variety of backgrounds.  

 “Our initial investment in capabilities and infrastructure meant that GenV was able to have strong data and biological sample storage systems in place early in order to enable thousands of families to join the research project. This is key to the success of the project.” 

GenV Scientific Director, Professor Melissa Wake, said that in parallel with building the infrastructure needed to support GenV, the research team developed GenV’s Focus Area Framework and embedded the mechanisms that enable GenV to test new strategies.  

“Through its capacity to support trials and other intervention evaluation approaches, GenV is living the idea that cohorts should not only watch, but actively work to fix, today’s difficult challenges. The six focus areas – mental health and wellbeing, obesity and diabetes, allergy immunity and infection, development and learning, organ health and healthy environments – have been identified for their impact, cost and slow progress, with inequity and vulnerability as overarching themes.  

“Very few childhood or adult studies, in Australia or internationally, involve more than 10,000 participants – most are much, much smaller. Large, whole-of-population studies like GenV are game-changers for finding and testing new solutions that can improve health and wellbeing outcomes for children and parents. 

“Recognising this, the Australian National Health & Medical Research Council has already funded a Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grant to develop and test new technology aimed at treating a common infectious cause of hearing loss in newborn babies. This research intends to use data from GenV to establish Australia’s first rapid bedside newborn cCMV screening test to offer early treatment and improve cCMV outcomes in children.” she concluded.