QFAB hires two new recruits

Dr Tiffanie (Tiff) Nelson and Dr Farah Zahir have joined QFAB, QCIF’s bioinformatics arm—Farah as a biostatistician and Tiff in research community engagement for the Australian Bioinformatics Commons (BioCommons).

Farah will help QFAB provide biostatistics support to QCIF members and partners. In particular, she will help deliver biostatistics clinics for the University of the Sunshine Coast, University of Queensland’s Faculty of Medicine, and Metro South Hospital and Health Service.
QFAB’s biostatistics clinics provide researchers with advice related to bioinformatics, biostatistics and biodata.
Farah is a physician by training with a background in clinical practice and healthcare management, and holds a Master’s degree in healthcare management from the Royal College of Surgeons-Ireland.
Prior to joining QFAB, she was a UQ PhD student and has recently submitted her thesis, examining the relationship between obesity and mortality in individuals with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
“I decided to join QFAB because of its balanced emphasis on providing a broad range of biostatistics, bioinformatics and biodata support to healthcare researchers, and the collaborative work environment here,” said Farah. “I am looking forward to working with the multidisciplinary team and expanding my professional skills through the wide range of courses and workshops provided by QFAB, covering statistics, data processing, and bioinformatics.”
Tiff will work part-time for QFAB, with one day per week at UQ and two days per week at the Menzies Health Institute on Griffith University’s Gold Coast Campus.

In her Research Community Engagement role for the BioCommons, Tiff will consult with Australia’s biomolecular researchers to identify services and infrastructure the BioCommons could facilitate creating in the future.

The BioCommons is a large-scale digital infrastructure investment intended to ensure Australian life science research remains globally competitive. Through the BioCommons, due to be launched in early 2020, researchers will have access to the tools, methods and training they require to respond to national challenges, such as food security, environmental conservation and disease treatments. 

Tiff’s past work and experience has involved ecology and biology, specifically on microbial organisms with applications on their detection for conservation tools, wildlife health, ecology and infectious disease.

Prior to joining QFAB, she spent 14 months at Deakin University working on whole virus communities and assembling a novel parechovirus genome isolated from an outbreak of sick infants in Geelong, Victoria.

“I love working on projects in microbial and molecular ecology, but mostly I get excited about the data. Working with QFAB, I am looking forward to learning new skills in bioinformatics and biostatistics with a bunch of nice people,” said Tiff.

She completed a PhD in microbial ecology at the University of New South Wales in 2012. Her thesis on the gut microbiome of seals involved fieldwork in the Antarctic.

She then worked for two years as a postdoctoral researcher with the Australian Institute of Marine Science, pairing molecular techniques with a study on the soil micro-fauna of tropical floodplains to understand climate change in the Northern Territory’s Kakadu National Park.

Following this, she worked at Montana State University in the U.S. for 18 months on a project that identified impacts on human microbiome in relation to health and particularly women’s reproductive health. “This allowed me the opportunity to work on a range of both qualitative and quantitative datasets from multiple ‘omic sources,” she said.

Dr Farah Zahir and Dr Tiffanie (Tiff) Nelson