Interview with Professor Ian Frazer AC
Emeritus Professor Ian Frazer was the chair of the Translation Research Institute (TRI) founding board, and was previously the founding CEO of TRI. Ian is widely known for his work together with Professor Jian Zhou on the development of the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer. Ian’s work has been recognised through the 2005 CSIRO eureka prize for Leadership in Science, Queenslander of the Year, and Australian of the Year in 2006, the 2008 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, and the 2008 Balzan Prize for Preventive Medicine. Ian is a Fellow of the esteemed Royal Society of London, and was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2012.
CIRES Centre Director Professor Shazia Sadiq interviewed Ian in 2022. During the interview, Ian highlighted the pervasiveness of data in every aspect of science as without data there is no research and that almost everything we do is data driven. Ian explained how both the types and the use of data in his research have evolved, from clinically focussed data on individuals or groups of patients, to the use of technology for cell characterisation, and then to highly complex, very large datasets when dealing with genetic information and properties of individual cells. Ian recognises that managing that data is critically important to get sensible answers, but we must also start by asking sensible questions. Whereas sharing of data and methods is mandated due to reproducibility requirements, the conditions in which the data was generated or meta-data is not typically available in a consumable or standard way. Ian emphasised the importance of meta-data and its importance in ensuring continued development of methods on the dataset in a valid way, and so that data repurposing is done in an informed way to avoid garbage in garbage out problem.
Professor Frazer’s advice for research students: “Stick to your area of expertise and get very good at it, but know enough about the context in which your research is being conducted to form mutually beneficial collaborations.”
Information Resilience refers to the capacity of organisations to create, protect, and sustain agile data pipelines, that are capable of detecting and responding to failures and risks across their associated value chains in which the data is sourced, shared, transformed, analysed, and consumed.
CIRES is working with public and private sector organisations across Australia to reduce time-to-value from their data assets through increased workforce capacity and cutting-edge systems and tools.
The numerous socio-technical challenges of achieving information resilience are prevalent in every industry sector and science is no exception. In this interview series, we talk to some of Australia’s top scientists about their experiences and insights into the opportunities and challenges in the collection, curation, and use of scientific data. The series focuses on researchers at The University of Queensland working in data intensive domains with major data challenges including Emeritus Professor Ian Frazer AC, Professor Janeen Baxter, and Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.
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