MCRI’s innovative GenV research project commenced at Gippsland Southern Health Service’s Leongatha Hospital this month.

GenV is one of the world’s largest-ever birth and parent cohort studies. The opt-in project will follow babies and their parents to help solve problems like asthma, food allergies, obesity and mental illness – mostly using data that is already routinely collected.

Around 100 new jobs have been created in clinical settings across the state over the life of the GenV project.

GenV is entering an important phase as it scales up throughout 2021 to be available to all newborns and their parents across Victoria.

Every family with a newborn baby will be able to join up over a two-year period, no matter where they live.

Leongatha Hospital joins other birthing hospitals across Victoria in offering local families the opportunity to take part in GenV, including South Gippsland Hospital at Foster.

Professor Melissa Wake, GenV scientific director and a paediatrician of 30 years, said that by 2035, GenV’s vision is to have helped create a happier and healthier future for many children and parents.

“By involving children and families in this once-in-a-generation initiative, GenV can help solve pressing problems like asthma, food allergies, obesity, and mental illness.

“In addition, we are seeking to address the inequities that face so many children and families across Victoria. Because GenV will be in every community, it may be especially helpful to the most vulnerable individuals and communities in our state,” she said.

Vivienne Low, director of nursing Leongatha, said Gippsland Southern Health Service was excited to be part of GenV.

“This initiative will help to harness a better understanding of the common and complex conditions arising in our community. The outcomes can only benefit future generations and we are fortunate to be given the opportunity to be part of such an innovative project in South Gippsland,” she said.

Professor Wake said that large whole-of-state research projects such as GenV could speed up answers to the major issues facing children and adults, today and for their futures.

“GenV truly is a collaborative study and a partnership of many. We are profoundly grateful to the team at Gippsland Southern Health Service for partnering with us,” she said.

“Over the next two years, around 150,000 children born in Victoria and their parents will have the opportunity to participate in the project. Put simply, by signing up to be a part of the GenV generation, parents will help to create a healthier future for all children and their families,” she said.

GenV is led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, supported by the Royal Children’s Hospital and University of Melbourne, and is funded by the

Paul Ramsay Foundation (PRF), the Victorian government and the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Visit the GenV website for more information at genv.org.au.