World-leading genome sequencing capability established in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct

Digital illustration of DNA.
A single NovaSeq 6000 instrument has the capability to sequence 50 human genomes in less than two days.

The Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF) and the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research (UMCCR) announced today that they have established a state-of-the-art NovaSeq genome sequencing platform.

Based at the new Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC), this facility is primed to revolutionise the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and rare genetic disease through rapid and efficient genome analysis.

Through their continuing Genomics Innovation Hub partnership, to provide Australia with access to world leading genomic technology, the partners are among the first globally to receive and deploy Illumina’s disruptive new NovaSeq DNA sequencing technology.

A single NovaSeq 6000 instrument has the capability to sequence 50 human genomes in less than two days, paving the way towards the sub-$100 genome and advances in clinical genomics and precision medicine.

Beyond biomedicine, the new facility also has exciting applications in the agricultural and environmental industries.

AGRF CEI Dr Irene Koutrits said: “The acquisition of NovaSeq technology delivers on AGRF’s commitment to leading innovation and supporting world class Australian genomic science.

“Importantly, the collaborative relationship with the University of Melbourne and the other Genomics Innovation Hub partners will help advance Australia’s place at the forefront of medical research and patient care."

UMCCR Director of Research Professor Sean Grimmond said: “When we pioneered the genome sequencing of our first Australian cancer patient seven years ago, it took more than six months to complete and cost roughly $1 million.

"NovaSeq technology, coupled with the latest computing solutions, now provides us with the means to carry out similar studies in days and at the price of an MRI. Given this scale, the platform will rapidly expand our Precision Oncology Sequencing Program and greatly enable the Cancer and Rare Genetic Disease programs of Australian Genomics and the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliances.”

The NovaSeq technology was purchased with assistance from the National Collaboration Research Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS) Agility Fund for nationally significant infrastructure, secured through the support of Bioplatforms Australia.

About AGRF

AGRF is a not-for-profit organisation enabling Australian genomics through a national network of genomic services and expertise. As Australia’s largest full service genomics capability, AGRF is a key contributor to genomic innovation and development, providing expertise, technology accessibility and comprehensive support to academic and industry sectors.

About the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research:

The newly formed UMCCR is based at the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) and seeks to improve patient outcomes through improved molecular detection and diagnosis of cancer, improved therapeutic clinical decision-making for patients through computational oncology, and the enabling of innovative programs in personalised cancer care. The UMCCR facilitates the sharing of infrastructure and supports collaboration within the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct and the wider VCCC alliance.

About Genomics Innovation Hub

The Genomics Innovation Hub is a collaboration between AGRF, the University of Melbourne, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute that provides access to disruptive next-generation genomics technology and analytics that are crucial for Australia to be at the forefront of medical research and patient care.