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20 Jul 2015

New Doherty Centre for Applied Microbial Genomics set to revolutionise public health in Australia

The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) has today launched the Doherty Centre for Applied Microbial Genomics, which is set to help transform the detection, tracking and treatment of infectious diseases in Australia.

Established by the The University of Melbourne at the Doherty Institute, the new Centre located in the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory (MDU PHL) is home to state-of- the-art technology that utilises next-generation DNA sequencing, which provides unparalleled speed and accuracy to genetically identify and track disease-causing microbes.

Directed by The University of Melbourne’s Professor Ben Howden, Director of MDU PHL, and Associate Professor Tim Stinear, this new technology will enable more rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases, more timely identification of disease outbreaks and allow clinicians to make more informed therapeutic decisions.

Professor Ben Howden said that aside from the technology, what made the Centre so powerful were its advanced, high-end computation capabilities.

“Led by world-renowned bioinformatician Associate Professor Torsten Seemann from the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative, these capabilities allow us to use the large amount of data generated by sequencing the microbes to ultimately fast track our investigations and respond to any outbreak.”

Professor Elizabeth Hartland, Head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, noted that the establishment of Centre was the result of renewed collaboration between the public health program and academic researchers from the Department, and would be vital to progressing their extensive work in antibiotic resistance and infection.

Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, said that adoption of this technology was beginning worldwide and the Centre was the first of its kind in Australia.

“Opening the Doherty Centre for Applied Microbial Genomics is a major step forward for public health and clinical microbiology in Australia and will transform how we track and respond to infections caused by antibiotic resistant superbugs, amongst other uses,” Professor Lewin said.

“I would like to congratulate Professor Howden, Associate Professor Stinear and their team on establishing the Centre, which will provide the expertise and leadership to assist other laboratories around Australia transition to this new approach.”

“A united and coordinated national effort is the key to harnessing the full power of genomics to fight infectious diseases.”

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