The new venture – to be called the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics – was officially announced by Australia’s NSW State Premier, The Hon. Mike Baird, whilst in Israel and on a special visit to the Weizmann Institute, where the project was described as serendipitous by Weizmann’s Vice President, Professor Michal Neeman.
“We were just starting to make plans to expand our work in this area and begin searching in earnest for the right partner, when the phone call came from Garvan’s CEO, Professor John Mattick, proposing the joint venture,” she said.
“It was rather like manna from Heaven as this was the answer to our vision. Now we can join our expertise and extensive database with Garvan’s genome sequencing know-how and state-of-the-art-equipment. This will ultimately lead to new insights into the mechanisms of disease that before now could not be unlocked.”
Professor Christopher Goodnow, Garvan’s Deputy Director, who accompanied the Premier on his visit to Weizmann, said they were delighted with the partnership to establish the centre – which will be the first of its kind in the Australasian region.
“We are entering an era of cellular genomics in which we can investigate the individual molecular genetic states of thousands of single blood, brain or cancer cells – revealing important changes in each cell’s genetic code, its genetic output, and the secondary code that organizes the genome – the epigenome,” he said.
Together, researchers from the two institutes hope to create synergistic research platforms to advance cellular genomic science. The centre’s mission will be to help researchers develop a detailed understanding of how the genomes and gene expression programs of individual cells in the brain, the immune system and other organs change over the course of a lifetime; how cancers, autoimmune diseases, dementia and other conditions develop; and how to design new strategies for prevention and treatment.
Importantly the Centre will form the foundation for a broad and enduring partnership between the Garvan and Weizmann Institutes as well as Israel and Australia.
Mr Stephen Chipkin, Chairman of Weizmann Australia, said he was excited with the new Israeli-Australian scientific partnership.
“This partnership between the Weizmann and Garvan Institutes in the new and rapidly expanding field of cellular genomics is tremendously exciting. It builds a significant bridge between Israel and Australia and will be of great scientific value, for the benefit of all humankind,” Mr Chipkin said.