Personalised medicine brings healing and hope

25 Jun 2024

One in 10 Australians are affected by immune-mediated disease, and often immune-suppressing treatments make patients more unwell than the disease. Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) and the Canberra Hospital have developed a personalised medicine platform for immune disease, and now, thanks to philanthropic support, there is new hope for patients.

For 20 years, Arthur Hodge, one such patient, battled debilitating pain, misdiagnosis and unanswered questions. The cause behind his complex illnesses remained a mystery. Willing to try anything to restore his health, Arthur was referred to Dr Simon Jiang and the ANU Personalised Medicine and Autoimmunity Laboratory in 2017 for a new approach to diagnosis and treatment. This personalised medicine program has proven transformational for Arthur and other patients like him, bringing healing and hope in the face of overwhelming health challenges.

Dr Jiang is at the forefront of improving patient outcomes. Conventional management of autoimmune and kidney disease assumes the causes are similar for everyone. As a result, treatments are imprecise and not always effective, and can also have significant side effects. That’s why Dr Jiang and his team are focused on identifying disease-causing genetic variants in individuals like Arthur.

The discoveries made in the ANU Personalised Medicine and Autoimmunity Laboratory are improving patient care at an accelerated pace. The lab’s unique combination of world-class facilities and scientific expertise in genetics, protein biology, immunology, and immune and kidney health makes it the only one of its kind in Australia. Through his commitment to understanding the cause of illness and developing tailored treatments, Dr Jiang is rewriting the narrative for patients.

Dr Jiang laments the barriers that patients face because of a lack of research funding. He says that the number of patients across the country is increasing, leading to a high load of patient care for doctors and professionals, and a need for additional financial aid.

Fortunately, Dr Jiang has seen enthusiastic philanthropic support from many in the ANU community, who are keen to see his team take their methods to as many patients as possible. Among the program’s major supporters are John Hindmarsh AM and Rosanna Hindmarsh OAM (BA ‘93), and Rob and Jenny Ferguson. Their generous gifts, along with contributions of all sizes from the wider ANU donor community, have been crucial in helping Dr Jiang and his team further their research, share their findings, and secure additional support.

We’re pleased to support Simon and the team and delighted by the progress they’ve made already. It’s great to see Canberra and ANU at the cutting edge of the personalised medicine revolution, transforming patients’ lives.


In 2023, the McCusker Charitable Foundation made a generous $1.5 million commitment towards funding three positions at the lab and aiding collaborations with health organisations across Australia, such as hospitals in Western Australia and Indigenous organisations in Cairns and Alice Springs. Two McCusker Postdoctoral Research Fellows were appointed in 2023, as well as the McCusker Senior Research Technician. These new additions to the team will lead transformative research that will enable help for more patients and their families.

The lab has also seen confidence from the scientific community, having received several highly competitive grants to further expand this research.

Whereas Dr Jiang’s expertise is in immune and kidney disease, the possibilities for personalised medicine are vast. Thanks to his team and the donors who share their vision, patients who feel as if they have tried every medicine to no avail have renewed hope.

Page Owner: Philanthropy