Bioinformatics fellow provides
needed expertise to a
variety of projects
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.
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.