WEHI’s joint Bioinformatics division head, Professor Gordon Smyth, has been elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
The honour recognises Professor Smyth’s long-term achievements in statistics, bioinformatics and computational biology, which have enhanced the analysis of complex biological data and underpinned a wide range of medical research discoveries.
At a glance
- Professor Gordon Smyth has been elected a Fellow of the Australian Acaemy of Science.
- The award recognises Professor Smyth’s contributions to statistics and bioinformatics, particularly in the field of medical research.
Making sense of ‘big data’
Bioinformatics applies mathematics, statistics and computer science to make sense of complex biological data and biological systems. This has been essential for many fields of medical research, including understanding the role of genetic changes in contributing to disease, investigating the genes and proteins that drive the development of different lineages of cells, and measuring subtle responses in cells to stimuli.
Professor Smyth has worked at WEHI since 2001, the year the sequencing of the human genome was published. He has led many studies that have refined the statistical and computational techniques used to analyse ‘big data’, and this has enabled key breakthroughs across a range of WEHI’s research. Recent studies he has been a key contributor to have included:
- the development of an ‘RNA atlas’ of cells found in the breast
- revealing how the ‘tumour suppressor’ protein P53 prevents cancer
- discovering the cell-of-origin for a common form of lung cancer
- uncovering how immune cell health is maintained by carefully organised DNA.
An exciting field
Professor Smyth said he was honoured to be recognised by the academy.
“Bioinformatics has been an exciting field to work in, and it has been thrilling to see how far it has evolved in the last two decades,” he said.
“I’d like to acknowledge the fantastic researchers I’ve worked with – both colleagues and students in the Bioinformatics division, as well as collaborators across a range of disciplines both within WEHI as well as locally and internationally.”
WEHI’s director, Professor Doug Hilton, said Professor Smyth was an outstanding choice for fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science.
“When I look at the widespread impact of Gordon’s research, I am in awe of how many parts of science his work has impacted. He’s not just an amazing bioinformatics researcher – he has made critical contributions to research across fields including cancer, immunology, stem cell biology, clinical translation and molecular biology. Gordon is consistently one of Australia’s most-cited researchers, and rightly so. Very few scientists around the world today have had such a broad impact on science.”
Professor Smyth’s research has received significant support from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.