New research centre applying maths to biology

19 Aug 2003

Understanding how all the information encoded in the human genome actually 'comes to life' was boosted yesterday (19/08/03) when the Federal Government announced almost $4 million funding for the Australian Research Council Centre for Genome-Phenome Bioinformatics, based at UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB).

Spread over five years the ARC funding will enable researchers to model and visualise complex molecular processes in mammalian cells.

Head of the Centre IMB's Professor Mark Ragan said the Centre's primary focus would be to understand the transformation of genomic information into cellular form and function.

"The phenome is basically the physical manifestation of the genetic information contained in the cells of our body," Professor Ragan said.

"Understanding the progression from genome to phenome is pivotal to understanding what makes us function at the cellular level, and understanding human health and our susceptibility to disease.

"Not only will this research improve our understanding of how the genome comes to life in a mammalian cell, it will develop new computer software and experimental techniques broadly applicable to biotechnology."

The Centre will build a critical mass of researchers providing a national bioinformatics focus of human expertise and intellectual property vital to Australia's internationally competitive research in advanced bioscience and biotechnology.

"In conjunction with the ARC Centre for Complex Systems also based at UQ we are looking forward to providing leadership, training, and improved access to skills, tools and facilities at the interface of advanced bioscience research and mathematics, computing and information sciences," he said.

Other participants in the Centre of Excellence include researchers from UQ's Department of Mathematics, the Advanced Computational Modelling Centre (ACMC) and School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (ITEE), Queensland University of Technology, The University of Newcastle, The Australian National University, IBM Life Sciences and the IBM Thomas J Watson Research Centre.

The IMB is one of Australia's leading bioscience research institutes and in collaboration with the Department of Mathematics, ACMC and ITEE has state-of-the-art supercomputing, visualisation and bioscience research facilities not found elsewhere in Australia.