Professor Nigel Laing AO
Menzies Health Institute Queensland Lecture Series
Presenter: Professor Nigel Laing AO
Title: Mackenzie's Mission: Australia-wide genomic precision medicine
Genetic conditions are a major cause of death and chronic illness in children. Estimates suggest 1:50 Australian couples have an increased chance of having a child with a severe autosomal or X-linked recessive condition. Reproductive carrier screening has historically been implemented for specific diseases in specific populations, eg Tay-Sachs disease in Ashkenazi populations, resulting in reduced disease incidence. Next generation sequencing technologies make screening for hundreds of conditions affordable. Mackenzie's Mission is a $20m Medical Research Future Fund project to develop, test and evaluate a reproductive carrier screening program that could be implemented and made available free to any Australian couple that wanted to use carrier screening. It aims to screen 10,000 couples spread through all States and Territories from metropolitan to remote regions in proportion to the population. Delivered free at population scale, reproductive carrier screening could empower any couple to make reproductive decisions in line with their values.
Professor Nigel Laing AO obtained his PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 1979. He completed a one-year post-doc at the University of Oslo in 1980, then joined the University of Western Australia in 1981. Professor Laing has researched genetic disease since 1987. His Group has identified the genes for more than thirty diseases. The four current themes of Professor Laing's research include disease gene discovery, development of therapies for genetic muscle disease, development of improved molecular diagnostics and population screening for severe recessive diseases. He is one of three leads of Mackenzie's Mission the Australian Reproductive Carrier Screening Project.
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