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Bioinformatics fellow provides
much needed expertise to a
variety of projects

Bioinformatics refers to a field of study that covers biology, information theory and computational techniques. Due to the specialised nature of bioinformatics, experts in this area are in a unique position to provide analytical techniques for large datasets, such as those generated from analysis of the whole genetic code of individuals with MS (genomics) as well as analyses of the complete profile of proteins that exist in health and disease (proteomics). These types of studies look at thousands of genes or proteins within the one investigation and require expert mathematical analysis to identify important trends within the wealth of data.

Dr Rod Lea, based at the Hunter Medical Research Institute in Newcastle was awarded a fellowship, funded by the Trish MS Research Foundation, specifically to provide bioinformatic services to a range of research projects in MS. Now in his third year, Dr Lea continues to provide expertise to the MS Research Australia ANZgene and Proteomics Platforms, collaborative projects which examine genes and proteins in MS respectively.

Dr Lea has been involved with an impressive number of projects which he works concurrently. Over the last year, Dr Lea has compiled and applied a comprehensive set of methods to analyse in more detail the original gene data from ANZgene. These investigations will look for specific changes such as interactions between networks of genes and differences according to gender that may be linked to the X and Y sex chromosomes. Dr Lea has also been involved with an analysis of a rare genetic change identified in the Australian MS population. A further analysis of the activity levels of genes will integrate information about direct changes to the genetic code – an important step that is often missing in gene activity studies. Dr Lea is also working with Professor Shaun McColl, chair of the MS Research Australia proteomics platform, on a study looking at a newly identified cell of the immune system known as Th17-GM cells.

As these many studies demonstrate, the methods developed by Dr Lea continue to provide much needed support for MS researchers around the country. We look forward to his further results with much interest.

Trish Foundation & MS Research Australia Working together to find a cure for MS
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