Snow Medical Research Foundation announces grant for UQ genetic researchers


Landmark genetic research could allow doctors to accurately predict whether a patient is at risk of developing common diseases before symptoms become evident.

Snow Medical Research Foundation has awarded University of Queensland researchers $8 million to advance the use of genomics to prevent chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Associate Professor Loic Yengo from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience said the study would analyse DNA sequences from millions of participants, focusing on increasing participation of people with diverse ancestries.

“The Snow Fellowship is an extraordinary opportunity to do this work at the necessary scale, and this will include a 10-fold increase in the representation of people with non-European ancestries in genetic health data around the world,” said Dr Yengo.

Snow Medical Research Foundation chair Tom Snow congratulated Dr Yengo, the first Snow Fellow from UQ.

“Loic Yengo is a serious talent who we are proud to support,” said Mr Snow.

“He's going to accelerate personalised medicine based on an individual's genome.

“His research focuses on people from diverse backgrounds to ensure life-saving medical advances are accessible to everyone – a key issue for Snow Medical.

“The Snow Fellowship funding and its resulting discoveries will reinforce the important role of both UQ and Australia in cutting edge genomics data science, attract new talent and allow breakthroughs that will make health care more cost-effective and equitable.”

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry AC thanked Snow Medical for their transformative support of Dr Yengo’s research, and their investment in biomedical research across Australia.

“Breakthroughs in medical research take time, and too often, short term funding arrangements get in the way of high-end research outcomes,” Professor Terry said.

“We are grateful to Snow Medical and the generous Snow family for making a difference for people living with chronic disease by providing certainty for this vital work, which will ultimately benefit genetic research around the world.”

Dr Yengo said preventing people from developing a disease was always the better option, and more cost effective for the health system.

“I’m very appreciative of this unique support from the Snow family, which will ultimately improve health equity by enhancing our ability to accurately predict disease risk regardless of a person’s background,” he said.

Dr Yengo joins Professor Lara Malins from the Australian National University as 2024 Snow Fellows.