Genetics

The Monash Children’s Hospital Genetics Department assists with the diagnosis, management, counselling and support of children with genetic disorders.

Phone: (03) 8572 3000

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About us

Monash Genetics Department helps with the diagnosis, management, counselling and support of adults and children with a wide range of genetic disorders.

These range from the more common genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome to rarer conditions like muscular dystrophies, Huntington’s disease and cardiomyopathies.

Prenatal diagnosis for various genetic conditions can also be organized through our department.

The genetics team uses a non-directive, patient-centred care approach, assisting patients and families to understand and make informed decisions about their healthcare options.

Patients attending this service may have a genetic disorder or be at risk of one through their family history.

Most genetic consultations are outpatient appointments at Monash Medical Centre Clayton, and a weekly outpatient clinic is also held at Berwick Healthcare on Mondays. Ward consultations can also be organised at Monash Medical Centre Clayton, as required.

Clinics

General paediatric clinics provide assessment, diagnosis and management of children with known, and often unknown genetic syndromes. The general adult clinics provide diagnosis, management and reproductive family planning advice to individuals or couples attending the service.

Prenatal clinics

Daily urgent prenatal clinics are held at Monash Medical Centre Clayton, to provide management and support for patients with increased risks of genetic disorders during pregnancy, including counselling for increased risk screening results.

Prenatal diagnosis for specific genetic conditions can be organised through this department, as staff liaise closely with the Fetal Diagnostic Unit (FDU) for invasive diagnostic procedures such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis. Genetics staff also assist the Fetal Diagnostic Unit with diagnosis and support of patients with fetal abnormalities identified on ultrasound.

Specialty clinics

The general genetics staff is involved in various multi-disciplinary specialty clinics in neurogenetics, cardiac genetics, skeletal dysplasias, hearing loss, craniofacial and cleft lip and palate, genetic skin conditions and 22q11 deletions.

Management plan

Genetic testing is organised, where applicable, to assist with diagnosis, management and prenatal diagnosis of various genetic conditions. After diagnosis, patients receive a management plan and a detailed summary letter to assist communication with relatives and health care providers. They may be referred to specialist clinics for assessment, and/or ongoing management which may include medical, surgical or allied health interventions.

Staff

This exceptional multi-disciplinary service is led by head of the unit, clinical geneticist, Dr Matthew Hunter and unit manager, senior genetic counsellor Katherine Rose. Dr Hunter completed his medical degree at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and went on to specialise in paediatrics in Brisbane and Melbourne before sub-specialising in clinical genetics at the Victorian Clinical Genetics Service.

He brings experience working in many different areas of medicine, in the third world, the UK and Australian hospitals to complement nearly a decade in the field of clinical genetics. Dr Hunter worked in the General Genetics Service and GOLD (Genetics of Learning Disability) service in Newcastle before returning to Melbourne to lead the general genetics service at Monash Health.

He has written and collaborated on many research papers on a range of topics in clinical genetics but his main areas of research interest are in familial intellectual disability and genetic causes of hearing loss.

Others in the team include clinical geneticist Dr Alison Yung, neurologist Associate Professor Michael Fahey and visiting specialists including Associate Professor Tiong Tan and Associate Professor Ravi Savarirayan.

Our team of dedicated genetic counsellors is available daily for advice regarding referrals and patient care. They also provide face-to-face and telephone counselling support to patients during prenatal diagnosis and after fetal loss, with referrals to community support organisations, when appropriate.

Referrals

Referrals to Monash Genetics Department should be addressed to the Head of Unit Dr Matthew Hunter. The patient will be seen by a clinician within this specialty. The referral should indicate that it is valid for an indefinite period. Correspondence regarding the patient’s contact with our clinic will be sent back to the referring doctor and other relevant doctors.

For referral guidelines to the Monash Genetics Department click here.

Please note: Monash Health also has another genetics department, the Familial Cancer Centre, which focuses on the diagnosis and counselling of inherited cancer syndromes. Referrals to that department should be made separately.

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