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Cheryl Critchley
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Renowned molecular biologist Associate Professor Andrew Lonie has been appointed Director of the Victorian Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI).

University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor James McCluskey and Professor Mark Hargreaves, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, today announced the appointment.

This appointment complements Assoc Prof Lonie’s most recent appointment as Director of EMBL Australia’s Bioinformatics Resource and acknowledges his considerable achievements in positioning the Victorian and Australian student and research community to be producers, not just consumers, of intellectual property in this exciting era of life sciences computing.

With a background in molecular biology and computer science, Assoc Prof Lonie was appointed Head of the VLSCI’s Life Sciences Computation Centre in 2010 to create a multi-disciplinary centre of expertise in life sciences offering best practice analyses, training and education.

He now supervises a team of 20 highly-qualified bioinformaticians working on over 50 research projects in key institutions across Victoria.

Over this period Assoc Prof Lonie attracted further income from a combination of national infrastructure grants (Bioplatforms Australia, NeCTAR, EMBL Australia, Australian National Data Service and Research Data Services), collaborative subscriptions and project grants.

He has also nurtured the University of Melbourne Masters of Science (Bioinformatics) course from four students in 2010 to 40 students in 2015.

Professor McCluskey said the VLSCI is evolving into an important centre of expertise in computational data analysis, visualisation and interpretation, and training.

“The convergence of talent, resources and funding, much of which is due to Andrew’s drive, has delivered significant results to date and will inform VLSCI’s future directions,” he said.

Professor Hargreaves added: “The University is excited to be part of the inter-disciplinary work of the VLSCI and the continued efforts in providing critical research infrastructure and expertise for Victorian researchers. At the same time, the VLSCI is investing in the development and growth of important relationships with international infrastructure initiatives and bodies such as the European Bioinformatics Institute.”

Thanks were also offered to Professor Justin Zobel, who took on the role of Director over the past six months following the return to Europe of Professor Peter R. Taylor, Director from 2010 to 2015.

Professors McCluskey and Hargreaves also took the opportunity to announce that Associate Professor Jan Tennent, CEO, Biomedical Research Victoria had accepted the role of Chair of the VLSCI Advisory Council under revised governance arrangements put in place under the 2015/16 Grant Agreement with the Victorian Government.

Assoc Prof Lonie said he was looking forward to a positive working relationship with Assoc Prof Tennent, the Victorian Government and other stakeholders, as they take VLSCI into the future.

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