Daniel Cameron

Daniel Cameron

Daniel Cameron has applied his experience in software engineering to undertake PhD studies in the field of bioinformatics.

Mr Cameron’s research has improved how genetic changes in cancer can be detected, earning him the 2016 Picchi Award for Excellence in Cancer Research.

From robots to bioinformatics

Daniel Cameron and Professor Doug Hilton
A PhD with Associate Professor Tony Papenfuss
has enabled Daniel Cameron (L) to apply his skills
in computer science to medical research problems.

With undergraduate training in software engineering and mathematics, Mr Cameron’s first experience of research was through a project developing computer vision algorithms for use by soccer-playing robots. After more than a decade working in commercial software development, he decided to pursue a PhD in medical research.

“Having a non-traditional background, a key factor for me in deciding to do a PhD at the Institute was the high level of support the Institute provides to its students,” he said.

“The strong bioinformatics program at the Institute provided a perfect opportunity to apply my skills in mathematics and software engineering, and transition into the world of medical research.”

Mr Cameron said he had particularly benefited from the Institute’s weekly seminar and student journal club programs. “Not having a background in biology, I found these were invaluable for expanding my knowledge,” he said. “They are part of the strong culture of learning fostered at the Institute.”

 

Detecting genetic changes in cancer

Daniel Cameron using a computer
Daniel Cameron's PhD research has developed
a new software program to detect genomic
changes in cancer. 

Mr Cameron’s research, supervised by Associate Professor Tony Papenfuss, focuses on improving methods for detecting genomic rearrangements in tumour genome sequencing data. Genomic rearrangements – the movement of large sections of DNA - are an important type of mutation in cancer.

As part of his PhD Mr Cameron has developed the award-winning software program GRIDSS (Genomic Rearrangement IDentification Software Suite), a powerful new approach to detecting these rearrangements.

In 2016 his contributions to cancer research were recognised with the Picchi Award for Excellence in Cancer Research, which is awarded to the top PhD students at the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) partners.

The $10,000 award, sponsored by the Picchi Brothers Foundation, enabled Mr Cameron to visit research laboratories in the US and UK and attend an international conference.

He said the opportunity to present his work on GRIDSS to an international audience gave the software much needed exposure. “GRIDSS is already being used in a number of cancer projects; it has broad application,” he said.

“It is satisfying to see my work starting to be used not only by fellow researchers, but also in clinical applications directly affecting patient outcomes. I’m looking forward to continuing to contribute in this exciting field.”

Melanie Bahlo

Talking to Einstein A Go Go as we celebrate the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) 'Medical Research Week'.