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Media Release
For Immediate Release

Melbourne, 10 October - Efforts to fully document the full scale of human genetic variation and its role in illness and disease were boosted last week with the launch of the Human Variome Project South East Asian Node.

The Human Variome Project is an international initiative, coordinated from Melbourne, to ensure that discoveries about the human genome and how it affects our health are routinely shared in a free and open manner.. The Human Variome Project South East Asian Node will assist the national efforts of Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand to share information on genetic variations in South East Asian populations between member nations and the rest of the world.

"This is a tremendous step forward for these countries," said Professor Richard Cotton from the University of Melbourne and Scientific Director of the Human Variome Project, who was present at the launch ceremony in Melaka, Malaysia on the third of October. "These countries obviously recognise that genetic and genomic healthcare is an important part of a well developed health system and they are serious about providing these services to their citizens."

Once thought to only contribute in a major way to a small subset of diseases that primarily affect children, genetics is now seen as being important to almost all areas of human health.

"There is a genetic component to all illness and disease. But for a lot of diseases, we still need to find out what specific changes in our genes make up that component." says Cotton. "And to do that, we need to be able to sort through as much information as possible. Sharing data between diagnostic laboratories is critical to being able to find these changes and give better advice to patients and their families." The Human Variome Project works with national health systems and national societies of health professionals to establish HVP Country Nodes---information sharing hubs that connect all the laboratories in a country providing genetic testing services.

The launch of the Human Variome Project South East Asian Node was officiated by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Bin Yassin, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and Minister for Education, and Professor Dato' Dr Omar Osman, Vice Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia. It was held during Hari UNESCO Malaysia 2013, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's annual celebration of Malaysia Day at Dataran Memorial Kemerdekaan, Melaka on the 3rd of October, 2013.

In launching the Human Variome Project Malaysian Node, Muhyiddin Bin Yassin noted that the Human Variome Project "provides space for genetic diseases studied in various countries, and also provides access to current reference source for doctors and researchers. It is to help their daily clinical practice as well as help in the field of biomedical research. The information obtained will be used for global importance."

ENDS

About the Human Variome Project

The Human Variome Project is an international consortium of scientists and health professionals working to improve global health through the free and open sharing of genetic variation information.

The Human Variome Project acts as an umbrella organisation across multiple countries, institutions and initiatives. It works to encourage communication and collaboration around it central vision—the improvement of global health through the sharing of genomic knowledge.

The Human Variome Project has four roles: to establish and maintain the standards, systems and infrastructure necessary for the worldwide collection, curation, interpretation and sharing of information across the genome; to advocate and promote ethical behaviour in the field of medical genetics and genomics; to share knowledge about our genome and its function in determining health; and to assist individuals and nations build their capacity to address genetics aspects of individual and global health.

 Media Contact:
Timothy D. Smith
tim@variome.org 
+61 (0)419 357 589
http://www.humanvariomeproject.org/

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