Statistician Mr Davis McCarthy has won a $150,000 scholarship from the General Sir John Monash Foundation to undertake a PhD at the University of California, Berkeley.
Mr McCarthy, who works in the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute's Bioinformatics division, said he was looking forward to starting his PhD in September 2011.
"The work I propose for my PhD will help biologists to develop treatments for diseases such as cancer, malaria, and diabetes," Mr McCarthy said. "Statisticians may operate behind the scenes in improving human health, but our contributions can be wide-ranging and profound."
Recent advances in biology have been driven by the development of ultra high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies that allow biologists to investigate the differences in thousands of different genes at once. The outcome of this is the generation of an overwhelming amount of data.
"Making sense of this deluge of data presents a real challenge," Mr McCarthy said. "Statisticians aim to help biologists obtain as much useful information from their data as possible by providing robust statistical analysis techniques implemented in easy-to-use, well-documented, public software."
Mr McCarthy said there are many possible applications. "We can, for example, investigate which genes are 'differentially expressed' between tumour cells and healthy cells as a step towards understanding the mechanisms by which cancer evades the body's defence system," he said.
Mr McCarthy plans to undertake his PhD in the Department of Statistics at UC Berkeley, home to several leading researchers in this field who actively collaborate with the institute's bioinformaticians.
Mr McCarthy began working in the field of biomedical statistics in 2006, while an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) student in the Bioinformatics division. UROP is a scheme designed to give undergraduate students an early opportunity to experience rea
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Walter and Eliza Hall Institute