Prof Jennifer Byrne named as one of Nature's top ten in 2017

19 December 2017

Professor Jennifer Byrne, Department Head of the Children's Cancer Research Unit at Kids Research Institute,  The Children's Hospital at Westmead and Professor of Molecular Oncology at the University of Sydney, has today been named in international journal, Nature, as one of  the 'ten people who mattered this year.' She is the  only Australian included.

Her work identifying research papers that could mislead researchers working on cancer treatments led to the prestigious accolade. She first discovered papers with DNA sequence errors and potential widespread fraud in 2015. Professor Byrne was familiar with this gene as she was the first to identify and clone it twenty years ago.

She then worked with a colleague, Cyril Labbe, a computer scientist at the University of Grenoble Alpes in Grenoble,  to develop a program, Seek & Blastn, to detect errors in the gene sequences. This early version of the program has since helped to identify flaws in more than 60 research papers, almost all of which relate to cancer.

“Being named as one of Nature’s 10 is great recognition of our work, and of the importance of taking active steps to improve the reliability of the biomedical research literature,” Professor Byrne said.

“Published errors hold back research progress and translation. We are trying to reduce the source of some of these errors, particularly in the cancer research literature which is my field of expertise.”

“Our research focusses on the incorrect reporting and use of particular experimental reagents that are commonly used in cancer research publications", she said. "Scientists need a better understanding of these types of errors, so that they can avoid wasting time and money by inadvertently following up incorrect results.”

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