Cell behaviour is controlled by the cells’ genetic material, made up of DNA. Genomics is the study of the entire DNA content of a cell or organism (its genome).

Our researchers are using genomics to better understand how diseases develop, and to discover new ways to diagnose and treat disease.

Genomics research at WEHI

Our genomics researchers are:

  • Generating and analysing the genome sequence of diseased cells and disease-causing microbes to understand their function.
  • Developing strategies that use genomic information to improve disease diagnosis and treatment.
  • Discovering how genes work together in health and disease.

WEHI is a founding member of the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance, which aims to integrate genomic medicine into everyday healthcare for the benefit of patients.

What is genomics?

All cells contain genetic information, made up of the molecule DNA. DNA provides instructions, called genes, that direct the production of proteins. Other DNA within cells controls how genes are used by different cell types and at different times. DNA is composed of a sequence of ‘bases’ that function like letters of the alphabet to spell out the genetic instructions. The human genome is made up of three billion bases.

Genomics is the study of the many genes and other DNA sequences within the cells, how they function, and how they interrelate.

Differences in the structure and/or sequence of the genome influence a cell’s behavior and explain some of the differences between cells. For example, a diseased cell’s genome may differ from a healthy cell. Such differences may also explain why two diseased cells respond differently to a treatment. Genomics can also reveal similarities between cells. For example, two parasite species may share genes that make them susceptible to the same treatment.

Genomics research involves establishing the sequence of DNA in a genome, and understanding its function or effect. It also reveals differences in different cells’ genomes that are associated with different behaviours.

Genomics techniques

Important aspects of genomics research include:

Sign up to our quarterly newsletter Illuminate

Find out about recent discoveries, community supporters and more.

Illuminate Autumn 2024
View the current issue