Doors open for scientific breakthroughs
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Doors open for scientific breakthroughs

Dr Dorit Samocha-Bonet holding a micro-fluid chip inside the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics. Photo: Shane Desiatnik
Dr Dorit Samocha-Bonet holding a micro-fluid chip inside the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics. Photo: Shane Desiatnik

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian officially opened the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics in Sydney last Thursday.

Combining Australian and Israeli scientific know-how with the latest technology, the centre has the potential to achieve breakthroughs in understanding and treatment of cancers, metabolic disorders and immune diseases.

It will give Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel a physical presence in Australia, build on collaborative projects between both Institutes and equip researchers from around the world to study thousands of individual cells simultaneously, uncovering each cell’s unique genome sequence and genetic output.

Berejiklian said “the opportunities that lie ahead for this centre are enormous, and the relationship between Garvan and Weizmann will only grow”.

Weizmann’s vice-president, Professor Michal Neeman, described the centre as “a platform and framework for interaction” that will enable researchers to “enter uncharted territories in terms of what is possible”.

Garvan’s executive director, Professor John Mattick, said the centre brings together “Garvan’s leadership in whole genome sequencing and analysis with Weizmann’s expertise in emerging single-cell technologies”.

The centre will initially focus on five projects that will study cancer cells that “sleep” within bone, “rogue clones” of blood cells that can cause autoimmune disease, immunotherapy treatments for melanoma, breast cancer, and personalised medicine treatments for pre-diabetes patients.

Garvan diabetes researcher, Dr Dorit Samocha-Bonet, said the cutting-edge facility will be used by her team and Weizmann researchers in a collaborative study of pre-diabetes patients that aims to identify and compare different factors and differences in an individual’s genome sequence.

“People with pre-diabetes are very diverse – they are not all the same. So by studying these differences, we can better predict how these people will respond to treatments, and tailor those to their needs,” she said.

The Centre is located in Darlinghurst on the top floor of the Garvan’s Kinghorn Cancer Centre building.

It was funded by a NSW Government grant, and philanthropic support from John Roth and Jillian Segal, Laurie and Di Sutton, and the Johnny Kahlbetzer Family.

SHANE DESIATNIK

At the launch: (from left) Jillian Segal, Garvan Institute executive director Professor John Mattick, Weizmann Institute vice-president Professor Michal Neeman and Weizmann Australia chairman Stephen Chipkin. Photo: Shane Desiatnik
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