Project Description

Dr Seán O’Donoghue


Office of the Chief Executive (OCE) Science Leader
CSIRO, Sydney

Data visualisation in bioinformatics: Exploring the ‘dark’ proteome

Advanced bio-data visualisation

Thursday 7 July 2016

Seán O’Donoghue ( is an Office of the Chief Executive Science Leader in Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Sydney. He is also Group Leader and Senior Faculty Member at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney. He received his BSc. (Hons) and PhD in biophysics from the University of Sydney, Australia. Much of his career was spent in Heidelberg, Germany, where he worked in the Structural and Computational Biology programme at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), and also at Lion Bioscience AG – then the world’s largest bioinformatics company – where he was Director of Scientific Visualisation. His work has received many awards, including the Elsevier Grand Challenge (first prize), the Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research (finalist, 2015), the NSW Emerging Creative Talent Award (finalist, 2015), and the NSW iAward for Research and Development (first prize, 2015). His contributions have been recognised with a C. J. Martin Fellowship from the National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia, an Achievement Award from Lion Bioscience AG, and by being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The rapidly increasing volume and complexity of biological data calls for new approaches to help life scientists gain insight from these data, rather than being overwhelmed. To address this, the application of modern data visualization principles and methods will be critical, in combination with improved data management, machine learning, and statistics. I will illustrate the power of this ‘BioVis’ approach by presenting several bioinformatics resources that empower biologists by making complex data easier to access and use. This includes:

Aquaria (, Compartments (,
Tissues (, and
Minardo (, and Rondo (

I will showcase how these resources are being used to explore the known and unknown (‘dark’) proteome, generating new insights into human biology and health. I will also discuss VIZBI, an international initiative aimed at raising the global standard of bioinformatics software ( Finally, I’ll discuss the use of visualization to create molecular and cellular-scale animations aimed at educating and inspiring the public about cutting-edge biomedical research (