Terry Speed doesn’t expect to see headlines reading “Statistician cures cancer” any time soon. But he knows that maths and stats can help researchers understand the underlying causes of cancer and reduce the need for surgery.
A mathematician and statistician, he has written elegant theoretical papers that almost no-one reads. But he has also testified in court, helped farmers and diamond miners, and given biologists statistical tools to help them cope with the genetic revolution.
A typhoid outbreak in Kathmandu has provided new insights into bacterial epidemics and antibiotic resistance, thanks to a Melbourne scientist’s genomic research.
Kathryn Holt, of the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute, used genome sequencing to discover that an epidemic of deadly typhoid bacteria in Nepal’s capital city was driven by climate, and not by the outbreak of novel genetic strains.
Her research, published in the Royal Society journal Open Biology, changes our understanding of how typhoid spreads and how we can better respond to other bacterial epidemics.
Melbourne veterinary researchers are using genomic techniques and bioinformatics to lead them to new specific candidate drugs for the treatment of a devastating parasite known as barber’s pole worm, which causes anaemia, deaths and massive production losses in the sheep industry.
Using the latest gene sequencing technology and the supercomputers of the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative, Prof Robin Gasser’s research group from the University of Melbourne’s Veterinary School have been able to compare barber’s pole worm’s DNA and RNA with that of other organisms in order to track down genes essential to the worm’s growth, development, reproduction and survival. Continue reading Parasites betrayed by their genome→
Analysing the genomes of Australia’s iconic marsupials will provide insight into how they turn off and on the development of the early embryo; give birth to very underdeveloped young, and why marsupial milk changes radically over the months of lactation.
This knowledge could lead scientists to new treatments for premature births, better milk production in cows, as well as novel antibiotics. Marsupials fill an evolutionary gap between the distantly related birds/reptiles and the more closely related placental mammals (such as humans and cows).