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The health potential of big data

25 January 2017

Associate Professor Genevera Allen will present a free public lecture exploring the ways big data may hold the key to understanding causes and cures for cancer as well as understanding the complexities of the human brain. 

On Tuesday 31 January Assistant Professor Allen’s will deliver her Sydney Ideas talk Networks for Big Biomedical Data as part of the 2017 AMSI Summer School program, presented by the School of Mathematics and Statistics.

The talk will highlight how data science is transforming medical research. Specifically, Allen will show how networks can be used to visualize and mine big biomedical data, from genetic networks that have led to the discovery of new drug targets for cancer to brain networks that show how the brain communicates and how these communications are disrupted in neurological diseases. Using real case studies Assistant Professor Allen will demonstrate how cutting-edge data science is bringing us closer than ever before to major medical breakthroughs.

We critically need more people trained in statistics and data science that are equipped to tackle the exciting opportunities creating by this data deluge.
Genevera Allen

Genevera Allen holds joint appointments at Rice University in the USA and the Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital. Her research focuses on developing statistical methods to help medical scientists make sense of their Big Data. In 2014, Dr. Allen was named to the "Forbes '30 under 30': Science and Healthcare" list and is in Australia to participate in a workshop held by the Network of Minds, an interdisciplinary grouping of mathematical scientists, neuophysiologists and computational scientists within the University of Sydney.

Like the AMSI Summer School program itself, Assistant Professor Allen hopes that her talk raises awareness of many essential mathematical research opportunities made possible by big data.

“When most people think of math and statistics, they think back to their high school or college calculus and introductory statistics class” Assistant Professor Allen said.  “Unfortunately, most people I speak with did not have great experiences in these courses, in part, because they didn’t see how the math and statistics they were learning about could be applied.  Events such as the AMSI Summer School program are critical for highlighting how math, statistics, and data science can be used to make ground-breaking discoveries from data.

“As the size and complexity of data is steadily increasing, the challenges associated with data-driven discoveries are exponentially increasing.  We critically need more people trained in statistics and data science that are equipped to tackle the exciting opportunities creating by this data deluge.”

Assistant Professor Allen hopes that the audience will come away from her talk excited this growing field of research. “I hope people come away understanding the potential for data science, and specifically the potential for data science to revolutionize biomedical research.”

Register to attend this free talk.

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