Professor Naomi Wray, Professor Peter Visscher and Associate Professor Jian Yang ... analysing very large data sets.
Professor Naomi Wray, Professor Peter Visscher and Associate Professor Jian Yang ... analysing very large data sets.
3 March 2016

A $7 million Australian Government grant will propel the advance of personalised medicine for common diseases, in a five-year research project at The University of Queensland.

The National Health and Medical Research Council Program Grant to the Queensland Brain Institute’s Professor Peter Visscher, Professor Naomi Wray and Associate Professor Jian Yang was announced today.

Professor Visscher said high-throughput computing power would be used to analyse very large genomic data sets collected from hundreds of thousands of people.

“Our research focuses on patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders including motor neuron disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, autism and schizophrenia,” Professor Visscher said.

“The analysis methods and tools we develop will pave the way for translating the technology to other common diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cancers.”

Professor Wray said the new analytical methods and tools would be disseminated through software.

“The integration of our new methods with disease-focussed themes will promote the translation to clinically relevant applications, allowing other researchers to apply our research across the full range of common diseases,” she said.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the research was part of the revolution under way in medicine.

“Big data technology created social media, and has transformed weather forecasting and mineral exploration,” Professor Høj said.

“Transformation of the same magnitude is now coming to health care, as we move into the era of so-called personalised and precision medicine based on an individual’s genes.

“I congratulate Peter, Naomi and Jian on their exciting research and for attracting this prestigious NHMRC grant to the University.”

QBI director Professor Pankaj Sah said the research project placed Australia at the forefront of this field included national and international collaborations, including some in China.

“Making sense of big data is a key challenge,” he said.

“This project will maintain and expand Australian capacity in statistical genomics, and train and mentor a new generation of researchers.

“The research strategies are applicable to many common diseases, so this research has the potential to change many, many lives.”

Watch a video here on Associate Professor Jian Yang’s work on big data.

Contact: Fiona Cameron, UQ Communications,, +61 7 3346 7086.