The Computational Biology Hallmark Research Initiative was announced in 2014 with funding from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research for three years. Professor Edmund Crampin and Dr Andrew Siebel continue as key contacts for the active community of computational biology researchers at the University.
Recent technological advances have led to new kinds, and large amounts, of data in the biological and biomedical sciences – such as images at a very fine scale, DNA sequencing and other measurements at a molecular level. These data pose computational challenges to manage the data and describe and model key features. Computational biology also often uses mathematical models and statistical inference techniques to help understand biological processes. Computational approaches are prominent in genomics and brain imaging, in systems and synthetic biology, and of increasing importance in many other areas of biology including immunology and infectious diseases, as well as evolutionary and ecological modelling.
The Computational Biology Hallmark Research Initiative developed a networked approach to strengthening collaborations, particularly engaging researchers from the Faculty of Science, the Melbourne School of Engineering and the Faculty of Medicine Dentistry and Health Sciences.
The Computational Biology Hallmark Research Initiative built and strengthened cross-disciplinary and external collaborations in computational biology, raising public awareness and engagement with the computational biology community at the University of Melbourne. The Initiative has had an impact across the University, through
- Support for seminar programs - including the Melbourne Integrative Genomics Seminar Series which continues to provide opportunities for local researchers to interact with research leaders from key international and national institutions.
- Three rounds of seed-funding provided project support for 14 interdisciplinary projects. As well as building opportunities for applications to larger funding schemes, this seed funding provided experience for early/mid career researchers to further develop their leadership and collaborative skills as CIs on seven of these projects.
- Initiative steering group members were integral to the implementation of the new BSc major in Computational Biology and MSc Comp Biol program.
- As a major driver of a Hallmarks Research Initiatives' mentoring workshop for early-mid career researchers. The resulting "Mentoring for STEMM Staff at the University of Melbourne" report recommended a more holistic approach to mentoring programs: a focal point on the staff hub, embedding programs in induction and performance development review processes, and centrally-run training workshops for mentors etc.