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First bioinformatics bursary awarded

Jia An Yu

Melbourne Genomics has awarded the first in a series of bioinformatics student bursaries to Ms Jia An Yu. The bursaries, linked to the University of Melbourne’s Master of Science (Bioinformatics) course, aim to attract early career bioinformaticians to clinical work in order to grow the new workforce that will support genomics in mainstream medicine.

Ms Yu’s bursary will put her new bioinformatics skills into practice, in a research project aimed at developing a clinically-oriented approach to analysing whole genome data for inherited cardiac disorders.

Led by Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Associate Professor Paul James, the project will be co-supervised by Dr Bernard Pope, the Lead Bioinformatician in the Human Genomics Group at Melbourne Bioinformatics, and Lavinia Gordon, Bioinformatics Manager at the Australian Genome Research Facility.

‘I know Jia An is keen to start applying her new skills,’ said Dr Pope. ‘This is an excellent engagement model: Jia An gets to work on a real-life problem, and Paul gets help to progress his important clinical work.’

Ms Yu’s undergraduate training was in Biology at China’s Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), a large multi-disciplinary, nationally-renowned university focused on science, engineering and research. ‘At HIT, I developed an interest in big data in the life sciences. This matched well with my experience with statistics and computation, so I went looking for a relevant postgraduate degree,’ Ms Yu explained.

‘Three things appealed to me about Melbourne: Melbourne University’s high ranking, Melbourne’s reputation as the world’s most liveable city, and the unique structure of this bioinformatics course, with streams for both biology and computer science/mathematics undergraduates to learn from each other.’

‘I am delighted by the opportunity to develop and put into practice a unique set of skills which are also in high demand right now. It is exciting to see where my study and this bursary will take me.’