It has been a busy few months since the mitoHOPE Program was announced in March 2023. This is the pilot program for mitochondrial donation in Australia.

At this stage, the team hopes to enrol patients into the mitoHOPE Program in June 2024. However, this may change depending on how quickly the required licences and ethics approvals can be acquired.

If you think mitochondrial donation may be suitable for you, we suggest you start to talk to your health professionals about this. They can help you understand the reproductive options that are most relevant to you.

Mito Foundation can provide information and support, including help to identify what steps you can take while the program is being established. Contact us via our Helpline on 1300 977 180 from 9am to 5:30pm AEST/AEDT, Monday to Friday or submit a request for contact via our website.

The mitoHOPE Program’s current main priorities are obtaining the required licences and ethics approvals to commence the research program. Once these have been acquired, the team can start training embryologists in the mitochondrial donation techniques.

They have also recruited key roles within the program. The mitoHOPE Program team is excited to have Dr Mel Caddy, Kevin Lam and Tegan Ekanayake joining at Monash IVF as mitoHOPE embryologists. Mel joined Monash IVF in 2014 as a clinical embryologist and is currently team leader in the Clayton lab. Kevin is the Embryology Lab Supervisor at Monash IVF Sunshine and the Embryology Training Team Leader for Victoria. Tegan joined Monash IVF in 2019 and leads the Bendigo satellite clinic.

Lauren Houston has joined the mitoHOPE team as Donor Coordinator. Lauren has worked at Monash IVF for 3 years and will be a key point of contact for people who donate eggs or sperm to the mitoHOPE Program.

The mitoHOPE team is filled with passionate and dedicated people. Many members of the team have even signed up for the Mornington Peninsula Bloody Long Walk in October! Check out their team page here.

Four committees are being established:

  • an independent advisory committee
  • a clinical advisory committee
  • a scientific insight group
  • an executive committee.

A mito community member has been invited to join the independent advisory committee. This group will provide guidance on how the program is run, including engagement with the mito community and other stakeholders.

Mito Foundation CEO, Sean Murray, and Policy and Advocacy Manager, Clare Stuart, are members of the executive committee. The executive committee is the decision-making body for the program and will govern how all aspects of the program are run.

Before the research can commence, the mitoHope Program also needs to hire professional and research staff, establish operational structures, set up laboratories and much more. The mito community will be invited to join focus groups and other consultations to help design how the program will work. Mito Foundation will advertise these opportunities in the coming months so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

To stay up-to-date with the program, express your interest via the form on the mitoHOPE Program website.

Thank you to the team at mitoHOPE for this update. Thanks also to Rebecca Walsh for reviewing this article.