Genomics translational activities

Genomics translational activities

Genomics alliance

Project Members - Macquarie University

Dr Janet Long - Senior Research Fellow

Dr Kate Churruca - Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Louise Ellis - Research Fellow

Dr Robyn Clay-Williams - Senior Research Fellow

Peter Hibbert - Associate Professor

Hossai Gul - Research Assistant

Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite - Professor and Director

Project Main Description

Our health system is increasingly complex; constantly changing and adapting. Finding ways to understand that complexity in a holistic manner (avoiding the reductionist temptation to study single processes in isolation) is imperative if we are to understand how things work and how they can work better.

This project will increase our ability to understand complexity and network capacities by studying the Australian Genomics Health Alliance (AGHA) as an example of a complex adaptive system. The AGHA was funded to oversee and facilitate the introduction of genomic medicine into Australian health settings. This nationwide alliance of clinicians, scientists, researchers, and consumers across varied sites, conditions and contexts is sufficiently complex, yet bounded enough, to permit a holistic and dynamic exploration with the aim of documenting interactions, productivity, and ways to enhance systems performance. We will examine the AGHA for the key defining features of a complex adaptive system: semi-autonomous agents, dynamic, non-linear interactions, emergent behaviours and self-organisation. We will use a mixed method, longitudinal design to construct our picture of the AGHA.


The AGHA is bringing together a wide range of partner organisations to lead the integration of genomic medicine into healthcare across Australia. Genomic sequencing is an extremely complex process to introduce into already complex clinical settings and health delivery systems that are already under substantial pressure. Challenges include: structural (e.g. changed laboratory set ups, changed membership and process of multidisciplinary teams), financial (e.g. costs of the sequencing, workforce development issues), cognitive (e.g. understanding the complexity of curation and limitations of genomic testing), and cultural (e.g. medical paradigms and ways of working compared to genetic counselling).


The overarching aim of this two-year project is to describe the AGHA as a complex adaptive system using Rich Pictures, dynamic modelling and social network analyses to show organisations, individual agents, relationships, emergent features and behaviours, components (e.g., technology), key drivers, and contextual influences and how they inter-relate.

Working Paper

CHRIS Working paper #102

Leveraging features of complexity to drive implementation: a critical review of studies from clinical genomics
Janet C Long, Kate Churruca, Louise A Ellis, Hossai Gul, Elise McPherson, Stephanie Best, Aleksandra Olekahns, Jeffrey Braithwaite


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Complexity Science in Healthcare: A White Paper

Project Sponsors

Australian Genomics Health Alliance

Related Projects

Implementation of genomic medicine into clinical practice

Related stream of research

Complex Systems Research Stream

Project Status


Centres Related to this Project

Centre for Healthcare Resilience and Implementation Science

Content owner: Australian Institute of Health Innovation Last updated: 21 Nov 2019 5:03pm

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