Deciphering Protein Secrets

August 11 / 66

David Perkins is a Proteomic Bioinformatician at the Bio21 Research Transfer Facility and Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing.

Bioinformatics is a relatively new field which involves the application of computational techniques to complex biological problems. With the development of new high-throughput techniques for the analysis of biological material, such as new generation genomic sequencers and advances in protein sequencing and identification, the amount of data that a typical laboratory generates, stores and processes has increased by many orders of magnitude in the last few years. Following on from this, bioinformatics has become much less esoteric and has grown in importance, to the extent that most modern biochemistry facilities will have some computational biology capabilities. The ultimate goal of bioinformatics is to extract as much information as possible from a particular data set and also to integrate diverse information to allow researchers to understand biological problems in more detail.

The large scale analysis of protein sequences and structures is known as proteomics, and is an increasingly important area, as these molecules are the main components of cellular structure and function. Within proteomics, protein sequencing and identification is a good example of the successful application of bioinformatics. Most sequencing experiments are now carried out using mass spectrometers which can very accurately measure the mass of biological molecules and, using computational techniques, these measurements can be used to elucidate the amino acid sequence, modifications or abundance of a protein.

I have been involved in bioinformatics for many years, and was very fortunate to be part of an institution which pioneered many of the techniques used for protein sequencing, my role being the development of computer software that is internationally the most commonly used application in the field today. Previously, I worked at the University of Leeds, Imperial Cancer Research Fund and Imperial College, London in the UK and I was very excited to be offered the opportunity to take up a joint position at the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing (VPAC). My role is to provide support for the proteomics group within the Research Transfer Facility at Bio21 Institute and also bioinformatics services to the universities and institutions that are VPAC partners.  I'm looking forward to get involved with more projects.

Staff who require bioinformatics support or advice are invited to contact David Perkins,


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