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