Scientist in a lab

Snow Fellowship awarded to Institute's Scientist

$8 million from the Snow Medical Research Foundation to shed light on the dark genome

2 March 2022

The Institute’s Associate Professor Emily Wong has been awarded an $8 million Snow Medical Research Foundation Fellowship to investigate the dark genome.

Dr Emily Wong portrait desk

These regions are ‘dark’ because they are poorly understood compared to regions in the genome that encode proteins but make up 98% of the human genome.

A/Prof Emily Wong says the investment from the Snow Medical Research Foundation will allow her to accelerate her research into the dark genome to understand its impact in causing heart disease.

A/Prof Wong says: “I feel incredibly honoured to be a Snow Medical Fellow. This level of support is transformative. My research vision would not be possible without this level of sustained funding.

"I'm thrilled to be able to expand this research, which has the potential to alter our understanding of heart disease and shine light on the dark genome and its disease-causing variations, thanks to the generous support of Snow Medical. I look forward to contributing to world-leading research in this crucial field.”

A/Prof Wong will be focusing on regions in the dark genome called enhancers which play critical roles in regulating our genes. She will seek to discover how they function or malfunction to understand their impact on the role they play in heart disease and ageing.

This will not only uncover what variants are causing disease but will also provide a new systems-based understanding of the heart in the context of healthy ageing.

“The Snow Fellowship is designed to back the brightest and best of their generation to take bold risks. We want our researchers to have the guts to fail before they succeed – and we give them eight years to deliver their vision,” Snow Medical Chair Tom Snow says.

“We have also been delighted by the additional commitment host research institutes around Australia have shown in supporting these Snow Fellows and their teams, through outstanding laboratories and in ongoing management and leadership development.”

Professor Jason Kovacic, Executive Director of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, says this is an incredible opportunity for both A/Prof Wong and the Institute. “A/Prof Wong’s research is unique and has the potential to deliver new diagnosis and treatments for heart disease that could help millions of people around the world,” says Professor Kovacic.

“I want to thank the Snow Family and the entire team at Snow Medical for believing in A/Prof Wong’s work and for providing her with the independence that will allow her to expand her team and to deliver on the potential of her incredibly exciting research.”

A/Prof Wong was one of three key medical researchers awarded fellowships, with each fellow receiving a million dollars a year for eight years.

The three fellows are:

Snow Fellows and their teams will also have access to training in leadership and management, and policy, entrepreneurship and engagement support. The next Snow Fellowship round will open by the end of the year, bringing the total Snow commitment to almost $70 million ($69.6 million).

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years