Top of page
Global Site Navigation


Local Section Navigation

Help us improve our content by rating this page.

Page rating system

Please leave a comment about your rating so we can better understand how we might improve the page.

You are here: Main Content

Big science needs big data

Monday, 02 May 2016


When scientists announced that they had mapped the human genome in 2003 it was expected to lead to a revolution in medical science.

In his The West Australian ECU Lecture Series presentation, biostatistician Professor David Broadhurst will explore why this medical revolution has struggled to take off and how the next generation of computer-savvy students will play a key role in ensuring we are able to harness the potential of Big Data in medical research.

“Historically the scientific bottleneck for genetic research was the collection of data, which was slow and expensive,” Professor Broadhurst said.

“But over the past 15 years, with the development of cheap high-throughput technology, this paradigm has flipped and the bottleneck is now not the collection, but being able to manage and understand the immense deluge of data that is being produced.” he said.

Professor Broadhurst emphasised the importance for medical researchers to have a good understanding of statistics in order to make informed decisions from the massive amount of data that can now be generated.

“We also need researchers to be well trained in experimental design, so that the data they produce is reliable and of practical use,” he said.

“While universities as centres of research, and educators of the next generation of scientists, are key to this data revolution, schools also have a role to play encouraging students to take an interest in statistics and data science.”

“Statistics doesn’t have to be a dry boring subject. Statistical models, are in daily use everywhere, from sport and finance to movies and fashion, so there is usually a way to get students interested.”

“The future of big science is big data and we need to encourage more young adults into this career path. I think we can particularly do more to encourage more young women to take up data science because despite making up 50 per cent of the population, they make up only a small fraction of people working in the field.”

Professor Broadhurst is ECU’s newest Professorial Research Fellow. In 2015, the University announced it was seeking more than 20 new professors from around the globe to rapidly expand its research activity.

To attend this free public lecture, visit The West Australian ECU Lecture Series registration page.


Skip to top of page