Did you know?

  • Genetic diseases are not contagious: they cannot be passed from person to person like the flu
  • While often inherited, many happen ‘out of the blue’ due to chance occurrences
  • There are more than 6000 different genetic diseases
  • Most are poorly understood and have no specific treatments or cures
  • It’s important we raise awareness and fund research to find answers
This 25th anniversary Jeans for Genes campaign highlights just a few examples of the many genetic diseases affecting kids. Our goal is to educate the community about genetic diseases and how these can affect children and families.

Thank you for your interest in this important issue.

Often called disorders, syndromes and other terms, genetic diseases can be confusing, but put simply—they are conditions caused, at least in part, by changes in our DNA. Random errors that occur naturally, or exposure to radiation and harmful environmental substances like asbestos, can cause changes in our DNA.

What is DNA? Think of it as the recipe for making your body, including your brain. Together with your upbringing, education, and other factors in your environment, DNA has a major role in making you who you are. Unless you are an identical twin, your DNA recipe is unique. We get half our DNA from our mother and half from our father.
Our DNA recipe is complex and undergoes change. These changes are sometimes called mutations. Most of the changes are harmless, but some are not.

Sometimes, a very small change in our DNA can result in a life-threatening genetic disease. At least five thousand disorders are caused by a change in a single gene. Another thousand genetic diseases are more complex in nature. ‘Complex’ or ‘multifactorial’ diseases are the result of many genetic changes and are influenced by our environment. Frequently, all the causes are not yet known.

Cancer, for example, is a complex genetic disease that only occurs when multiple genes are damaged. Mostly, that damage is not inherited but results instead from random changes or environmental factors like UV light, other radiation or dangerous chemicals. Sometimes, people inherit a damaged copy of a "cancer gene", which results in an increased risk of getting cancer. While not all genetic diseases are life-threatening, they can still have a profoundly negative impact on the lives of affected children and families.

With your help, we believe we can make a difference for these children.

Donate today   Sign up to raise funds

We are Children’s Medical Research Institute, the scientists and doctors behind Jeans for Genes. Our globally-recognised organisation conducts medical research to understand the causes of genetic diseases, and to devise better treatments and even cures. For the past 60 years, the purpose stated in our Constitution has been to ‘bring about the prevention, relief or cure of disease or illness in children’.

We began the Jeans for Genes campaign 25 years ago, to help raise funds for our genetic research. It is a campaign that has been copied in other parts of the world. By educating the community on the critically important role of genes in children’s health, we hope to not only highlight the importance of our cause but also to encourage people to learn more about genes.

The purpose of Jeans for Genes is to fund research that will change children's lives. But, by raising awareness of the complex and diverse nature of genetic diseases, we can also change perceptions.

Understanding brings compassion.

Compassion brings acceptance.

And acceptance is a gift we can give today to every child living with a genetic disease.



NSW Health - Centre for Genetics Education – Questions? Start here

Genetic Alliance Australia—Support Services

Further information:

Australian Genomics Health Alliance

Genetic Disorders (Medline Plus, US)

Genes and Disease (Nature Education)

The Genetics of Cancer (NIH, US)

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (NIH, US)

Mucolipidosis type IV (Genetics Home Reference, US)

LCHAD Deficiency (Genetics Home Reference, US)

Russell Silver Syndrome (Genetics Home reference, US)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (Genetics Home Reference, US)

Cystic Fibrosis (Genetics Home Reference, US)

Our Jeans for Genes kids


Diagnosed with leukaemia when she was just 2 years old, she has spent over 200 days in hospital and has already faced more difficulties than many adults. Linke’s story shows how research can help defeat cancer and save lives.
Read more.


A rare genetic disease, ML4, may have stolen his voice, but not his ‘wicked’ giggle. His disease makes simple tasks like eating or sitting difficult. Quinn’s mum has hope that science will find a cure.
Read his story.


You’ve probably never heard of the rare metabolic disorder, LCHAD deficiency, but you won’t forget Henry and his sister Rosalie. They won't eat most foods and are on a strict diet. If they stray from it, their lives are at risk. These two beautiful children face an uncertain future.
This is their story.

Her adorable elfin features are due to Russell Silver Syndrome, a congenital disorder that impairs growth and is still poorly understood. Ruby’s mum is passionate about raising awareness of this syndrome and the need for more research.
This is what she has to say.


Affected by severe Autism Spectrum Disorder since he was 2 years old, Max faces challenges every day. Anxieties, hypersensitivity to sounds, and a limited ability to communicate can bring him to tears. But his proud mum believes that early intervention is the key to his success story.
Read about it here.


Cystic fibrosis is an ‘invisible disease’ but it steals his breath and puts him in hospital for weeks at a time. Simon’s parents are massive advocates for research and actively fundraise in their community to help find a cure.
Read more.