Centre for Population Genomics

CPG Flagship Project: OurDNA

(PI: Professor Daniel MacArthur, Centre for Population Genomics)

In Australia, many communities of non-European ancestry are largely or entirely missing from all existing global genomic resources, including Indigenous Australians, as well as groups of Oceanian, South-East Asian, South and East Asian, Middle Eastern, and African ancestry. Many severe diseases are caused by DNA changes that are very rare in the general population. Clinical laboratories thus need DNA data from many people to identify the specific cause(s) of each person’s condition. Unfortunately, current DNA databases include mostly people of European ancestry, making it harder to diagnose patients from other ancestries. The OurDNA research program is CPG's flagship project designed to increase the genomic representation of Australian communities from African, Asian, Middle Eastern and Oceanian backgrounds, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.The need for inclusive representation is urgent, as many genomically under-represented Australian populations experience poorer health outcomes than other Australians. The aim of the OurDNA project is to create genomic resources that are more representative of Australia’s diversity. Our team will work with community stakeholders to co-design culturally aligned and scalable approaches for community engagement, recruitment and data sharing. The OurDNA program will incorporate:

  • OurDNA Samples - a lab that stores participants’ donated blood and cells for future health and medical research according to participants’ consent
  • OurDNA Data - a controlled-access repository of participants’ individual-level genomic information for future research according to participants’ consent
  • OurDNA Browser - an open access genome reference database for use by clinicians and researchers to guide disease prediction, diagnosis and treatment

The overall aim of the OurDNA program is to improve the inclusion of communities of diverse ancestry in genomic research and contribute to making the benefits of genomic medicine accessible to all Australians.