Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Mapping the Koala Genome

Rebecca Johnson of the Australian Museum’s Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics. Source: The Australian.

Paul Wallbank, Researchers discover benefits of freedom to fail in the cloud, The Australian, 26 April 2016

Australia’s researchers are taking a leaf out of the playbook of tech-savvy start-ups in leveraging cloud computing services to crunch vast volumes of data and co-ordinate the efforts of scientists across the globe.

“Good research is always multi­disciplinary and collaborative,” Rebecca Johnson of the Australian Museum’s Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics told The Australian. She was describing the Australian Museum’s involvement in a consortium of institutions mapping the koala’s genome and how she manages her part in the project.

“No big mammal genome had been done completely in Australia,” Dr Johnson said. “It was something we wanted to build up capacity in Australia so we could run this type of project. It’s been a huge learning curve for all of us, but it’s been a great project.”

Established in 2007, the koala genome consortium includes the universities of NSW, Sydney and the Sunshine Coast along with a number of overseas researchers. The project analyses tissue samples collected from zoos and wildlife hospitals around the country to build up a picture of the iconic native animal’s genetic make-up.

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