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Professor John Christodoulou appointed Chair in Genomic Medicine

Institute News
Thursday, March 3, 2016 - 11:15am
Professor John Christodoulou
The Melbourne Children’s Campus continues to cement itself as a leader in genomics, welcoming Professor John Christodoulou as Chair in Genomic Medicine. The new role, a joint appointment between Murdoch Children's Research Institute and the University of Melbourne Department of Paediatrics, will oversee the Centre for Genomic Medicine and drive the integration of genomics into clinical practice on the Melbourne Children’s Campus and beyond.

Professor Christodoulou has led a distinguished career, including 18 years as Head of the Western Sydney Genetics Program, based at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. He is recognised internationally as a researcher and clinician in human genetics, with a particular clinical and research focus in metabolic disorders of children.

“I’m very excited to be joining the Melbourne Children’s Campus, a campus that has always been at the forefront of genetic medicine in Australia. I studied at MCRI under the mentorship of Professor David Danks in the late 1980’s, and it is wonderful to be returning to carry on his work” said Prof Christodoulou.

The Melbourne Children’s Campus is a leader in genomic medicine, with clinical and diagnostic services collocated with state-of-the-art genomic research facilities. The Centre for Genomic Medicine will provide diagnostic testing for young patients through The Royal Children’s Hospital and Victorian Clinical Genetics Services (VCGS).

“Having worked in paediatrics for my entire career, I understand the great opportunities that genomic technology offers to families; improved and more efficient diagnosis, less invasive investigations, new therapies and more accurate genetic counselling restoring reproductive confidence to families” said Prof Christodoulou. “It’s about providing answers to families where there were no answers before.”

Professor Kathryn North, Director of Murdoch Children's and chair of the Australian Genomic Health Alliance (AGHA) said that the appointment will help facilitate the transition of genomics from the laboratory to patient care.

“We’re confident that with over 30 years’ experience in paediatric medicine, John will be central in driving the genomic medicine revolution in Australia. Melbourne Children’s is now best-placed to tackle this important work; which is all about providing more rapid diagnosis to patients, and preventing the onset of illness rather than treating it.”

The Centre for Genomic Medicine will also lead the push to developing a ‘genomics-literate’ clinical workforce, piloting new models for training medical professionals. New approaches to training will equip clinicians with the necessary skills to integrate genomic technology in to mainstream patient care, according to Prof Christodoulou.

In his own research, Prof Christodoulou led a world-first study identifying the underlying biological and genetic causes of Rett Syndrome, a devastating nervous system disorder mostly seen in females. In 2010 he became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of his contributions to genetic practice and research, particularly in the area of genetic metabolic disorders. Also in 2010, the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) honoured him with the Ippokratis Award for his outstanding achievement as a medical professional.