Intersect News #83 August 2015

13 Aug 2015

Big Data Big Impact 2015

The high-profile Cancer Institute of NSW Big Data Big Impact Grant has been awarded to A/Prof Dan Catchpoole at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. A/Prof Catchpoole said, “This is a tremendous achievement and is the product of 12 years of project development”.

The project will investigate personalised treatment through interpretation of complex biomedical data to improve the health of children with rare diseases, in particular rare childhood cancers (such as childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, neuroblastoma and rhabdomyoscarcoma). Clinicians will be able to visually interpret complex biological data; using a virtual workflow to compare existing and previous patients’ gene expression data and gene variations, as well as clinical and imaging data. This approach goes beyond the current approaches of grouping patients into risk categories and treating them based on similar symptoms, to providing clinicians with the ability to see each patient as an individual within a group – to assess how best to treat a patient in the clinic. The award comes as a grant of $60,000 in the first stage and a second stage of $150,000. Intersect’s Dr Jeff Christiansen is a Chief Investigator on the grant along with researchers from the University of Technology Sydney, the University of Newcastle and the University of Western Sydney. Intersect will provide technological assistance.

The project will use the recently opened Data Arena at UTS as an immersive visualisation environment to explore the complex data. See the Media release and project video

NSW Government announces new Data Analytics Centre

Minister Dominello in UTS Data Arena

Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello announced last week the NSW Government’s plans to establish a whole-of-government data analytics centre. Mr Dominello made the announcement at the University of Technology Sydney’s Data Arena before an audience of business and industry leaders.

The aim of the #dac is to tackle the big issues using whole-of-government data sharing approach, and bring research and industry along.

The steering committee comprises the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Mary O’Kane, NSW Customer Service Commissioner Mike Pratt, NSW Privacy Commissioner Dr Elizabeth Coombs and NSW Information Commissioner Liz Tydd. See the Media release and the Minister’s speech

Geospatial database showcases R & D strengths

The Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer has released the Interactive NSW Research Map, a ‘one-stop shop’ for information about 650 research organisations, as well as the state’s critical R&D facilities. The Interactive NSW Research Map showcases the state’s higher education, science, and research and development facilities in an easy-to-use geospatial format.

Intersect developed the location-based portal for the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer and Study NSW. The web-based system helps manage and curate the dataset and embed a map on the website to visually indicate the geographical locations of research institutions and organisations to the general public.

Users can search for research centres or infrastructure by Field of Research and/or Organisation Type be they the state’s universities, public sector research organisations, health and medical research institutes, ARC Centres of Excellence, Cooperative Research Centres or Industrial Transformation Research Hubs.

The portal is open access and will undoubtedly prove a useful tool for the development of research and industry and international collaborations. Visit the Research Map.

LODLAM and Digital Humanities 2015 recap

Two international events were recently hosted in Sydney, and in Australia for the first time: the Linked Open Data: Libraries, Archives, Museums (LODLAM) Summit and the Digital Humanities (DH) Conference.  Intersect was involved in the coordination and support of both events,working in partnership with the hosts: the State Library of New South Wales and the University of Western Sydney. Over half of the 110 summit attendees work in Australian universities and conference delegates numbered 500 from 33 countries. Read our recap here.

2015 AeRO Forum

85 delegates representing 55 organisations interested in eResearch gathered at the 6th National AeRO Forum in Canberra recently.

Attendees heard from three keynote speakers. Prof Susan Pond (Australian National Research Infrastructure Review) detailed the recommendations presented to Government for consideration. Prof Tom Cochrane summarised his report on the Status of the NCRIS eResearch Capability for the Australian Department of Education. Dr Rhys Francis talked about enhancing research impact through eResearch.

The Forum was hosted by AeRO members CAUDIT, AARNet and Intersect. Presentations, discussion notes and reports are on the AeRO website.

New work on trusted platforms: Extensions to Building Value and Alveo

The Building Value project delivered a system for the storage, management and analysis of historic benchmarking data from the Building the Education Revolution program of school infrastructure projects and other building projects. These latest rounds of development will focus on enhancing the indexation and rebasing capabilities of the system, enhancing filtering capabilities, improving the overall dashboard and user interface appearance and providing support for FECA (Full Enclosed Coverage Area). Intersect is providing these services for the clients UNSW and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

New development is also currently underway on Alveo, the Human Communication Science Virtual Laboratory, led by the University of Western Sydney. Alveo was initially deployed to production in 2014 and provides on-line infrastructure for accessing human communication data sets (speech, texts, music, video, etc.) and for using specialised tools for searching, analysing and annotating that data. Current development will focus on improving the overall ingest process to allow researchers to upload their own collections onto Alveo in vastly reduced times. The project team is also implementing ways to provide faster and secure movement of large datasets within Alveo (as part of the NeCTAR funded Data Access and Movement project).

Medical Research Future Fund update

Intersect is keeping its eyes on the funding horizon because we care about supporting health and medical research.

The story so far: announced in the Federal Government’s 2015 budget, the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) proposed a $20 billion perpetual fund supporting medical research, providing annual disbursements of $1 billion by 2022-23. Treasurer Joe Hockey introduced the MRFF legislation into Parliament on 27 May. The MRFF Bill has passed the House of Representatives. A third reading has been agreed at time of writing. Read the parliamentary updates.

Research Australia, The Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) and the broader MRFF Action Group are in the process of finalising a submission to the committee, and Intersect is participating in these consultations.

Potentially eligible recipients of the MRFF include medical research institutes, universities, State/Territory Governments, Commonwealth corporate entities and corporations. Consultations indicate that the preferred model is to fund collaborative research rather than individual researchers or research groups, as per the current NHMRC funding model.


  • 20 Aug 2015: “Excel Fu: Excel For Researchers” at ACU Melbourne. Enrol now
  • 20 Aug 2015: “Excel Fu: Excel for Researchers” at ACU Nth Sydney. Enrol now
  • 14 Sep 2015: “Excel Fu: Excel For Researchers” at SCU. Enrol now
  • 15 Sep 2015: “Excel Fu: Excel For Researchers” at SCU Gold Coast. Enrol now
  • 16 Sep 2015: “Research Data Management Techniques” at SCU. Enrol now
  • 22 Sep 2015: “Excel Fu: Excel For Researchers” at UoN. Enrol now
  • 23 Sep 2015: “Cleaning and Exploring your Data with Open Refine” at UoN. Enrol now
  • 23 Sep 2015: “Data Visualisation with Google Fusion Tables” at UoN. Enrol now
  • 09 Nov 2015: “Excel Fu: Excel For Researchers” at SCU. Enrol now
  • 10 Nov 2015: “Excel Fu: Excel For Researchers” at SCU Gold Coast. Enrol now
  • 11 Nov 2015: “Research Data Management Techniques” at SCU Gold Coast. Enrol now


Intersect is looking for candidates for the following positions: a Senior Software Engineer, an eResearch Analyst to be based at the University of Newcastle and casual IT Trainers.

More here

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