A new Centre for Applied Bioinformatics at The University of Western Australia aims to meet the huge growth in demand for researchers with applied bioinformatics skills, bringing together expertise from across the University and affiliated research centres and institutes.
“Bioinformatics methods and applications change rapidly and no single individual or group can stay ahead of developments, but by collaborating through the centre we can support advances in this field across biological disciplines."Professor Dave Edwards
Centre director Professor Dave Edwards said bioinformatics was the science of collecting and analysing complex biological data driving research across biomedical, agricultural and environmental disciplines.
Professor Edwards said the new virtual hub brought together expertise from six UWA schools, as well as the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Telethon Kids Institute and the Marshall Centre to support bioinformatics teaching and research.
“The rapid growth of data in biology spans the sequencing and analysis of genomes through to the automated analysis of images in biomedicine and agriculture,” he said.
“This requires skills and training in the use of high-performance computing and techniques such as machine learning.”
Professor Edwards said increases in biological data generation had led to high demand for researchers with applied bioinformatics skills and UWA had responded by establishing the centre together with a new Master of Bioinformatics.
Bioinformatics is applied to identify early-stage cancer from scans, discover the basis for rare genetic diseases from genome sequences, model environmental change on ecosystems and accelerate the breeding of improved crop varieties.
“Bioinformatics methods and applications change rapidly and no single individual or group can stay ahead of developments, but by collaborating through the centre we can support advances in this field across biological disciplines,” he said.
The centre is working with state, national and international organisations to deliver applied bioinformatics training and research excellence to advance medical, environmental, and agricultural research in the state.