Using Bioinformatics to Investigate the Spread of Disease – Video conferencing

A Victorian Challenge and Enrichment Series event for high ability students in Years 9 and 10


This program is only open to students in Victorian Government schools.


You may have heard that COVID-19 jumped the species barrier to infect humans. What does this mean? How is this possible? And can this happen in reverse? Discover the answers to these questions as you use bioinformatics to investigate infectious disease.

Many of the diseases that have plagued humankind are zoonotic diseases, those that cross the barrier from one animal species to another. AIDS, ebola, SARS, and now COVID-19 are all caused by viruses that originally infected other animals. Conversely, when a global pandemic occurs, humans relay the virus to a range of other potentially susceptible species. Research helps us to determine which animal species may be most susceptible so we can implement controls and reduce the risk to agricultural livestock, our beloved pets, and many endangered animal species.

Global surveillance and coordinated responses are integral to controlling zoonotic disease outbreaks and preventing fresh outbreaks in humans and in other animals. Scientists use a variety of bioinformatics tools to investigate the risks of zoonotic transmission.  Bioinformatics refers to the digital storage, manipulation, and analysis of biological information, such as DNA and protein sequences.  In this program, you will slip into the bioinformatician’s seat and use online digital tools to track the spread of coronavirus, investigate the interactions between viral and host proteins, and investigate the susceptibility of potential host animals to the coronavirus. You will evaluate the risk that an animal species of interest to you may contract COVID-19.


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Program duration: 2hrs

Program location: Video conferencing with GTAC


Program dates:

Term 1 - 17th, 22nd, 25th and 26th March 2021

Term 3 - 14th, 15th and 22nd July, 14th September 2021


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The Using Bioinformatics to Investigate the Spread of Disease - Video conferencing program was supported by the Victorian Government.