International Speakers

Dr Lauren CowleyDr Lauren Cowley

Dr Lauren Cowley

University of Bath, UK

Dr Lauren Cowley is a senior lecturer in microbial genomics and bioinformatics in the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath. Lauren joined the university as prize fellow of bioinformatics in 2018, progressed to lecturer in 2022 and senior lecturer in 2023. Lauren’s background is in public health and genomic epidemiology. She has worked on several international outbreaks, including implementing real-time genomic surveillance during the West Africa Ebola outbreak and working as an embedded scientist on the COVID-19 Taskforce in the UK Cabinet Office. She also previously worked at Public Health England (now UKHSA) in the Gastrointestinal Bacteria Reference Unit. Her research centres around genomic epidemiology, GWAS and machine learning for microbial genomics. She regularly collaborates with UKHSA to apply the latest technological advances to their vast wealth of genomic surveillance data on enteric pathogens.

Professor Jing-Dong Jackie HanProfessor Jing-Dong Jackie Han

Professor Jing-Dong Jackie Han

Director, Centre for Quantitative Biology, Peking University, Beijing, China

Prof Jing-Dong Jackie Han obtained Ph.D. degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She had her postdoctoral training at The Rockefeller University and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. In 2004, she became an investigator/professor at the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 2010-2019, she was a director of the CAS-Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology. In 2019, she became a professor at Peking University. Her research focuses on the structure anddynamic inference of molecular networks, using a combination of large-scale experiments and computational analysis to explore the design principles of the networks and to find how the complex phenotypes, in particular aging and stemcell development are regulated through molecular networks. She was awarded the NSFC Outstanding Young Scientist Award in 2006, and the Hundred Talent Plan Outstanding Achievement Award in 2009, selected as a Max Planck Follow in 2011 and a MaxNet Aging Fellow in 2014, F1000 faculty in developmental biology in 2016.

Dr Farhad HormozdiariDr Farhad Hormozdiari

Dr Farhad Hormozdiari

Research Scientist, Google Health, Cambridge, MA, USA

Farhad Hormozdiari, a research scientist in the HealthAI team at Google Research, where he combines genetic data and deep learning techniques to improve disease understanding for a diverse set of populations. His long-term research aim includes utilising genetics and computational methods for better understanding of human diseases and complex traits. Prior to Google, Farhad was a postdoctoral fellow at Broad Institute and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health working on multi-omics data to understand the biological mechanisms of human diseases. He obtained his PhD in computer science from UCLA (2016) with focus on fine-mapping of complex traits and GTEx gene expression. Farhad obtained his M.Sc. in computer science from SFU in Canada and B.S. in computer science from Tehran University in Iran.

Dr James McCaffertyDr James McCafferty

Dr James McCafferty

Chief Information Officer, Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK

James is the Chief Information Officer at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. His role covers IT strategy, delivery and operations to support the goals of the Institute. This encompasses research IT, research data, research software and informatics, enterprise applications, IT infrastructure and information governance and security. James has over 30 years experience in IT systems and networks. Before joining the Sanger, James was Chief Information Officer and Director of Research IT at University College London. And before that, various IT-related and programme management roles in BT (the UK’s leading telecommunications provider). James’ PhD is in computer vision. James’ current key interests centre around ensuring that the Sanger’s Informatics and Digital Solutions play a very active role in helping scientists plan and deliver bold and ambitious science.

Professor Jian YangProfessor Jian Yang

Professor Jian Yang

School of Life Sciences, Westlake University, Hangzhou, China

Jian Yang is a Professor of Statistical Genetics at the School of Life Sciences, Westlake University, China. After earning his Ph.D. from Zhejiang University in 2008, he conducted research in Australia at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and The University of Queensland before joining Westlake University in 2020. His primary research interests lie in understanding genomic variations among humans and their implications for phenotypes and diseases. He was the recipient of the Centenary Institute Lawrence Creative Prize (2012), the Australian Academy of Science Ruth Stephens Gani Medal (2015), and the Prime Minister’s Prize for Sciences - Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year (2017).

National Speakers

Dr Minh BuiDr Minh Bui

Dr Minh Bui

School of Computing, Australian National University

Minh Bui is a Senior Lecturer and Leader of the Computational Phylogenomics Lab from the School of Computing, Australian National University, with the motto to enable evolutionary research in the genomics era. His lab develops and applies bioinformatic methods, models and software for phylogenetic inference from genome-scale data. He leads an international team that jointly develops the widely used IQ-TREE software (http://www.iqtree.org) that has been used to study everything from the origin of Life on Earth to the emergence and spread of the coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic. IQ-TREE 2 recently won the Australian Research Data Commons Eureka Prize for Excellence in Research Software.

Dr Ira CookeDr Ira Cooke

Dr Ira Cooke

Co-Director, Centre for Tropical Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology, James Cook University, Townsville

Ira Cooke is a senior lecturer in bioinformatics and co-director of the Centre for Tropical Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology at James Cook University. His research uses population genomics to understand local adaptation in the marine environment by connecting recent biogeographical events with evolutionary processes on specific genes and genomic regions. One of the major goals of this work is to improve our understanding of the basic molecular biology of marine taxa (i.e. what genes do and how they are regulated). To further this goal Ira often works collaboratively, providing bioinformatic expertise to projects combining evo-devo, physiological and comparative genomic approaches.

Dr Quan NguyenDr Quan Nguyen

Dr Quan Nguyen

QIMR Berghofer and University of Queensland, Brisbane

Dr Quan Nguyen is a Group Leader of the Genomics and Machine Learning Lab at QIMR Berghofer, with a joint appointment at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience of the University of Queensland. He acquired multidisciplinary expertise at the world’s top innovative institutions in Australia (UQ, CSIRO) and internationally (RIKEN Institute and Stanford School of Medicine). With supports from multiple prestigious fellowships, including ARC DECRA and NHMRC (EL2), he established his leadership in addressing cancer complexity at single cell and tissue levels. Dr Nguyen has led multiple large-scale projects/programs, funded nationally (e.g., ARC, NHMRC, MRFF) and internationally (e.g., DoD, NCI, Wellcome Trust). Using machine learning and genomic approaches, his group are integrating single-cell spatiotemporal sequencing data with tissue imaging data to find causal links between cellular genotypes, tissue microenvironment, and disease phenotypes. The lab is also developing experimental technologies that enable large-scale profiling of spatial gene and protein expression (spatial omics) in a range of cancer tissues (focusing on brain and skin cancer) and in mouse brain and spinal cord.

Dr Elizabeth RossDr Elizabeth Ross

Dr Elizabeth Ross

Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, University of Queensland, Brisbane

Elizabeth grew up with a family background in agriculture and has followed that passion throughout her career. She studied Animal Science at La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia) before going on to complete a PhD where she developed the first ever application of microbiome predictions and applied them to identify low methane producing animals.  Since joining the University of Queensland in 2017 she has published over 40 peer reviewed publications and secured over $6Mil in grant funding as lead investigator. She currently leads a team of postdocs and students that are applying cutting edge biotechnology solutions to the problems that face agriculture today and into the future.

Dr Heejung ShimDr Heejung Shim

Dr Heejung Shim

Melbourne Integrative Genomics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne

Dr Heejung Shim is a group leader at Melbourne Integrative Genomics and a senior lecturer in statistical genomics at the University of Melbourne. Her broad research interests include statistical genomics, Bayesian/computational statistics, and bioinformatics. Much of her research has focused on the development of statistical/machine learning methods for analysis of complex and large-scale genomics data to tackle biological questions, particularly for understanding gene regulatory mechanisms. She completed her PhD in Statistics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and did a postdoc at the University of Chicago. Previous to her position in Melbourne, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Statistics at Purdue University.

COMBINE Keynote Speaker

Professor Jean YangProfessor Jean Yang

Professor Jean Yang

University of Sydney, Sydney

Professor Yang is a leader in statistical bioinformatics who works in cutting-edge biomedical research. She is currently the Director of the Sydney Precision Data Science which she established in 2022. Her research has led to seminal advances in integration of multi-layered biological data integration by removing extraneous variability and accounting for heterogeneity. Recently, she has made similarly significant advances in scalable data integration in single-cell transcriptomics sequencing. She was awarded the Moran Medal in recognition of her work on developing methods for molecular data arising in cutting-edge biomedical research. As a statistical data scientist who works in the interface of statistics, biomedicine, and health, she enjoys developing novel methods with translational potential in a collaborative environment, working closely with investigators from diverse backgrounds.