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Our Story

We've been helping to save children's lives for over 60 years.

Our Story

We've been helping to save children's lives for over 60 years.

Our long history of tackling the greatest health issues affecting children now drives us to search for cures for children's genetic diseases, which include cancer, cystic fibrosis, metabolic and rare disorders.

• 1 in 20 children face a birth defect or genetic disease
• Cancer is triggered by genetic changes and is a leading cause of death in children aged 4–14
• 30% of all admissions to children’s hospitals are due to genetic conditions

51 % of Research in Top 10%
607 International Collaborations
10,000 Cancer samples analysed
1,325 Media mentions annually

A History of 'Firsts'

1971 telethon

Children's Medical Research Institute founded

The idea of a Children’s Medical Research Foundation was formulated by Sir Lorimer Dods and Dr. John Fulton. The Foundation (later renamed Institute) was established in 1958 with funds raised by Australia’s first telethon and a large public campaign.

Australias first research unit for newborns

Australia’s first research unit for newborns

By forming Australia’s first research unit for newborns, we dramatically improved the survival rate for premature babies. We also helped develop the paediatric heart and lung life support machine.


Pioneered microsurgery

We pioneered microsurgery techniques to help repair tiny blood vessels and organs in infants and children, with the techniques developed here now widely used around the world. We also developed a better understanding of donor organ rejection in children and consequently improved the survival of infants following organ transplantation.

cystic fibrosis research

Cystic Fibrosis, Rubella and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

We were among the first to study rubella vaccines and lobbied the NSW government to establish school-wide vaccination programs. Other work by CMRI in the 70s and 80s included research into cystic fibrosis and foetal alcohol syndrome, resulting in our successfully lobbying the government to improve alcohol and drug support programs and warning women about the dangers of alcohol during pregnancy.

J4 G

Jeans for Genes

We helped lead the genetic revolution by establishing The Gene Therapy Research Unit, a joint venture with The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. In collaboration with the Children's Hospital in Paris, the Gene Therapy Research Unit conducted the first-ever gene therapy clinical trial for a genetic disease in Australia.

To fund this new field of research and educate the public about genes and genetics, we created the Jeans for Genes campaign, which was later replicated by other charities in the US and UK.

Telomere 3D animation

On the Leading Edge: Telomeres

Since our discovery of the Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) mechanism used by 15% of all cancers, we expanded our world-leading work in this field, being the first to identify the components of telomerase (a key factor in the other 85% of cancers). To date, CMRI hosts the greatest concentration of telomere researchers in the world, with their work contributing to the discovery of new and better treatments for every type of cancer, improved understanding of aging, plus better diagnosis and treatments for aplastic aenemia and other short telomere syndromes.

Procan 1

ProCan Launches Moonshot

The ACRF International Centre for the Proteome of Human Cancer (ProCan) was established at CMRI, quickly attracting the interest of the US Cancer Moonshot program, becoming its first international member. ProCan's 7-year plan is to analyse tens of thousands of examples of all types of cancer from all over the world to develop a library of information to advance scientific discovery and enhance clinical treatment worldwide.

Support us by making a one-off donation

Help our scientists understand and find treatments for rare diseases.
Fund next generation DNA sequencing to help us find the cause of a genetic disease.
Support Gene Therapy the 'Medicine of the Future' and cure previously incurable conditions with a single injection.

Click the button below to setup your monthly donation. As a regular monthly giver, you will have an even bigger impact on the lives of Aussie kids facing genetic diseases. Alternatively, you can phone 1800 436 437 to organise your regular gift.

Support Research

1 in 20 kids face a birth defect or genetic disease. You can be the solution.