Professor Simon Easteal, Director, National Centre for Indigenous Genomics.
The National Centre for Indigenous Genomics (NCIG) is creating the framework needed to ensure that Indigenous Australians are included in the health, economic, educational and social benefits of genome science, without risking cultural harm. Genome science is at the forefront of the new discoveries and technologies that are transforming medical practice. However, if a person’s genome is to be useful for diagnosis and treatment of disease it needs to be examined together with the sequences of many other people.
At the moment we mostly just know about genome sequence variation in people from Europe and parts of Asia. If we don’t also have knowledge about Indigenous Australians then they may be excluded from many of the benefits of genome science, which far from closing the health gap, may cause it to widen even further. NCIG, led by an Indigenous-majority board, is working with Indigenous communities to create a database of genome sequences to ensure that as medical science advances, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not left behind.