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Corporate entry Genetics and Bioinformatics Division (1996 - )

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Medical Research


The Genetics and Bioinformatics Division was created in 1996/1997 with the merger of some members from the Thymus Biology and Immunoparasitology Units with the Joint Protein Structure Laboratory (the Hall Institute's and Ludwig Institute's joint protein analysis group). In 1997 the Group's resources were augmented by the establishment of the Australian Genome Research Facility.


Through close collaboration between statisticians, molecular geneticists and clinicians, the Division has mapped sub-regions of the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) important in multiple sclerosis (MS). This has shown that there are at least two genes within the MHC contributing to susceptibility to MS. They conducted a high resolution genome-wide scan of 180 MS patients from Tasmania, developed novel approaches to analysing this data (based on case-control haplotype sharing) and have produced an integrated linkage-data cleaning package for distribution throughout the Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF).

The Genetics and Bioinformatics Division have also refined linkage data for loci controlling host response to malaria, and for diabetic susceptibility genes in the non-obese diabetic mouse. The use of association statistics and linkage in human populations has also implicated IL12B in type 1 diabetes and susceptibility to cerebral malaria. Investigation of this gene in the mouse has found that different haplotypes are strongly associated with different levels of gene expression.

Today the main research focus of the Genetics and Bioinformatics Division involves mapping disease genes, studying mouse models of autoimmunity, the genetics of cancer and bioinformatics for gene discovery. The Division continues to develop and apply technologies stemming from the Human and Mouse Genome Projects. It also has significant interest in the genetics of cancer predisposition and have discovered a candidate tumour suppressor gene lost in murine myelogenous leukaemias. They are continuing the search for tumour susceptibility genes in human families with an autosomal dominant familial leukaemia. The Bioinformatics group has made major improvements in the algorithms used to calculate and compare expression profiles across several different DNA chips. The group also assists in the design of more complex microarray experiments, and shows how to adjust when multiple comparisons are performed.

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Online Resources

Emily Geraghty & Annette Alafaci