Melbourne Bioinformatics enables cutting edge research into some of society’s biggest challenges.
In a myriad exciting interdisciplinary collaborations, our bioinformaticians are working with some of Australia’s leading researchers to improve our quality of life. Advancing disease diagnostics, finding new drug targets, refining treatments and furthering our understanding of the major diseases affecting our community including cancer, epilepsy, genetic disorders, diabetes, infectious diseases and eye disease.
Melbourne Bioinformatics evolved in 2017 out of the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI) which was funded by the Victorian Government (2009-2016) and member institutions. As a University of Melbourne research platform, our expert team supports life science data analysis, particularly in Melbourne’s biomedical and biosciences precinct. The Australian BioCommons is also hosted at Melbourne Bioinformatics through a funding agreement between the University of Melbourne and Bioplatforms Australia. Together we are working to build Australia’s capacity in bioinformatics, with nodes of activity across all the major Australian states.
Melbourne Bioinformatics empowers the life science research community through access to state-of-the-art resources, centralised bioinformatics expertise, and expert-led training services. We do this by:
- facilitating greater research collaboration locally, nationally and internationally
- developing skills in computational biology, bioinformatics, advanced simulation and modelling, data management and more generally the application of advanced computing in life sciences
- supporting industry development through the uptake of computational research in life sciences
- collaborating with Australia’s major infrastructure and networking activities such as Galaxy Australia and Nectar to support and increase access for researchers across Australia.
WHAT WE DO
Expert advice: grant writing, experimental design, data analysis, curation and management, compute options (in house or in the cloud), platform development.
Tools development including Janis and Bioinitio.
Research infrastructure development and delivery:
- Our development team contributes to Galaxy, a global community-led web-based analysis and workflow platform designed for biologists. We are also partners with QCIF, Australian BioCommons and AARNet in running Galaxy Australia for Australian researchers.
- Melbourne Bioinformatics hosts the NCRIS-funded Australian BioCommons, an initiative dedicated to building new research infrastructure to aid complex biological data analysis.
Training: hands-on workshops, interactive webinars, and online tutorials covering everything from basic programming for life scientists to RNA-Seq and single-cell data analysis, using R, Python, etc.
Newsletters go out regularly to a ~700 subscriber list.
Melbourne Bioinformatics is hosted within the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Our services are available to all University of Melbourne researchers and students, including those from research institutes affiliated with the University of Melbourne. These include:
- Austin Health
- Baker IDI
- Bio21 Institute
- Burnet Institute
- Centre for Eye Research Australia
- Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health
- Melbourne Brain Centre
- Melbourne Genomics
- Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
- North Western Mental Health
- Northern Health
- Nossal Institute for Global Health
- Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity
- Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
- Royal Children’s Hospital
- Royal Melbourne Hospital
- Royal Women’s Hospital
- St Vincent’s Hospital
- St Vincent’s Institute
- Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
We sponsor student and early career researcher events and training in bioinformatics through COMBINE and career and skills development of practising bioinformaticians through their professional body, ABACBS.
We also convene The Bioinformaticians’ Shed, a fortnightly meetup for local researchers and students to share and demonstrate current bioinformatics approaches and tools.
WHAT IS BIOINFORMATICS?
‘Bioinformatics is the application of information technologies and sciences to the organisation, management, mining and use of life-science information.’ [Australian Government Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources 2002]
The term ‘life-science information’ includes genetic, molecular, cellular, specimen, epidemiological and biodiversity information. Activities encompassed by bioinformatics include:
‘all aspects of gathering, storing, handling, analysing, interpreting and spreading vast amounts of biological information in databases.’ [Australian House of Representatives Standing Committee on Primary Industries and Regional Services 2001]
…Bioinformatics is also referred to in life-science literature as biological informatics, biomedical computing, computational biology or bio-IT… the definition adopted… is broad, including both microbioinformatics (e.g. involving the use of genomic or proteomic data) and macrobioinformatics (e.g. species/biodiversity informatics, health/medical informatics).[The definition should] be broad enough to cater for future trends and applications of bioinformatics. Currently, as some stakeholders have observed, bioinformatics definitions reflect the primacy of genomics and proteomics and often exclude biodiversity and health informatics. Many international comparisons do not consider macrobioinformatics. However, bioinformatics has shown some capacity to go beyond the sum of biology and IT and include physical sciences (mathematics, physics and chemistry) and medicine, with powerful implications for not only biodiversity, but also drug design and personalized medicine.
Biotechnology Australia, National Bioinformatics Strategy 2005, p.10