Hon Roger Cook BA GradDipBus MBA MLA

Hon Roger Cook BA GradDipBus MBA MLA

Deputy Premier; Minister for Health; Mental Health

    Funding boost for WA researchers on brink of identifying new diseases

    29/08/2019 8:00 AM
    • High-performing Western Australian researchers share in grants worth $6.5 million
    • Additional $2.8 million in infrastructure support for six medical research institutes 

    A team of world-class Western Australian medical researchers, thought to be on the brink of discovering four - possibly even five - new genetic diseases, are to benefit from a share in more than $9 million of State Government research funding.


    The team, led by Head of Neurogenetic Diseases at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Professor Nigel Laing AO, is already credited with having identified the genetic causes of more than 30 human diseases.


    Two of its recent breakthroughs are the:

    • Identification of a gene which, when mutated, causes peripheral nerve disease.
    • Revelation that variation of the protein responsible for giving red meat its colour, causes late-onset muscle and heart disease. This condition can lead to sudden cardiac death.  

    Professor Laing's disease gene discovery group has gained an international reputation for its work on various neuromuscular genetic diseases, including recessive disorders that cause paralysis before birth.


    Recessive diseases occur when both parents are carriers for the same recessive condition. Couples in this situation may be unaware of their one-in-four risk of producing an affected child unless they undergo genetic testing prior to conceiving.


    Discovering the genetic basis for diseases can pave the way for the development of new diagnostic tests and enhance carrier testing. This enables would-be parents to make more informed choices when planning their families.


    Professor Laing is one of 121 high-performing health and medical researchers awarded a grant in the latest round of the Medical and Health Research Infrastructure Fund (MHRIF).


    Professor Laing's team will receive further funding through the Research Institute Support program that is provided in addition to the MHRIF but directed to research institutes rather than individual researchers.


    Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:


    "The work of Professor Laing and his team is having a profound impact on the lives of families here in Western Australia and around the world and is an example of some of the extraordinary world-class medical research underway in our State.


    "The McGowan Government is proud to be spending over $9 million supporting medical research in the State. Having work of this calibre based here in WA has very real advantages for WA patients, our health services and our economy.


    "Local patients benefit from the advances arising from enhanced understanding of the diseases identified by Professor Laing and his team."


    Minister's office - 6552 6500