AMSI BioInfoSummer Participant Profile – Alishum Ali
A personal pursuit of safer pregnancies and reducing pre-term birth through AMSI BioInfoSummer 2019
Curtin University of Technology
With a double-degree in forensics and medical science, Alishum Ali had an ambition to become a detective. In a sense he now is, utilising his other degree. The pre-term birth of his son in 2015 had Ali searching for answers and failing to find these he turned to mathematics.
As a researcher in bioinformatics and machine learning at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Ali is designing accurate models to predict risk of premature birth early in pregnancy involving analysis of patient data such as laboratory results, medical history and genetic information enabling precise diagnosis and treatment.
“This conference was heavily focused on the mathematics behind bioinformatic tools, methods and technology. I needed more in-depth understanding on how best to go about analysing my own data and learn new skills. I have learned the foundations of proteomics and RNA sequencing technology that I had little prior knowledge of”, Ali confides. “I came out of AMSI [BioInfoSummer] confident to pursue these areas that I need to incorporate in my research to increase clinical translation. Having completed the workshops in statistics and data analysis I have increased my grasp of complex statistical theory and workflows.”
So, the biggest win for Ali from AMSI BioInfoSummer? “I increased my network of contacts in the statistics field many folds. We are now exploring collaboration with the University of Queensland for my current project. As a PhD student I have limited funding; if it wasn’t for this travel grant, I would have limited my learning to open source information. When you have large data you need to learn from experts interactively to best extract relevant information.”
Ali’s supervisor Dr Claus Christophersen notes that his candidate’s participation at AMSI BioInfoSummer was dependent upon receiving a travel grant. This is Ali’s second attendance at an AMSI-facilitated conference.
“Mathematics is always portrayed as daunting and difficult”, observes Ali. “Once you attend BioInfoSummer you see mathematics as enjoyable and engaging. You meet people who can explain difficult concepts in the most absorbable manner. That is valuable.”
“I commend the organisers for championing maths and empowering biologists.”