Professor Alicia Oshlack

Read about how Alicia is using innovative genome-wide technologies to detect cancer-causing mutations.

Professor Alicia Oshlack
Professor Alicia Oshlack

"My research career began with a PhD in astrophysics but my desire to work on meaningful problems in medical research drove a change of discipline. In 2003 I turned my strong analytical and computational skills towards new problems in the frontier field of bioinformatics.

"New genomic technologies that produce vast amount of molecular data at unprecedented scales have greatly accelerated over this time and subsequently transformed cell biology and molecular medicine. This data produced by the “genomics revolution” has driven my research into novel analysis approaches and methods for nearly 20 years.

"Cancer is a disease of the genome where mutations can accumulate throughout a lifetime. These mutations can be complex and at vast range of scales. Some of these mutations will ultimately lead to cancer while most mutations are benign “bystander” events.

"My research uses genome-wide technologies in order to detect cancer causing mutations in a variety of ways. My specific focus is looking at RNA as the most basic functional output of the genome. By looking at this data in innovative ways, using sophisticated computational and statistical approaches, we can begin to understand the processes that cause cancer and how we might be able to design treatments on a case-by-case basis.

"The Galli trust has supported me through enabling junior researchers within my group to work on methods to analyse new data types. In particular, single cell sequencing has unlocked another dimension in understanding tumours as we can see the RNA output of each cell individually rather than the tissue as a whole.

"Single cell analysis can reveal how tumours evolve and how cells communicate with each other giving details of cancer progression. We have a strong community of researchers in this space across institutions where we learn, collaborate and build on each other’s research in order to create new insights into the data sets that are being created.

"These new frontiers in technology and analysis are revealing details of tumours that have previously been obscured because we didn’t have the resolution of single cell technology combined with genome-wide analysis. We are creating new analysis methods that are made freely available to the research community around the world and enable others to do cutting edge research."

Professor Alicia Oshlack, FAHMS
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
School of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science
The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia