Kim-Anh Lê Cao and Stephen Leslie acknowledged with 2019 Moran Medals

Kim-Anh Lê Cao and Stephen Leslie have been awarded 2019 Moran Medals from the Australian Academy of Science for their contributions to research.

Dr Kim-Anh Lê Cao has been awarded the 2019 Moran Medal for her research in developing statistical and computational methods that are applicable to high-throughput biological data arising from frontier technologies.

These emerging platforms are generating a vast amount of data with enormous potential to help understand the functioning of the human body in health and disease, as well as the health of animals, plants and our environment more generally. Dr Lê Cao’s expertise in multivariate statistics, combined with her deep understanding of molecular biology has put her at the forefront of cutting-edge biological research.

Dr Lê Cao has a track record of success in biological data analysis, in developing novel statistical methods, in implementing them in efficient software, and in disseminating the software and encouraging its uptake by the relevant research community. She plays a critical role in several local, national and international collaborative studies with researchers from diverse bioscience disciplines.

Associate Professor Stephen Leslie has been recognised for his contributions to mathematical genetics and developing methods for analysing modern genetic/genomic data. A/Prof Leslie has focused his research on understanding the role of genetics in human disease and how genetics informs studies of human population theory. He applies novel approaches to genetic data to understand the history of populations and infer past migration events.

A/Prof Leslie’s work on the British population is a landmark in the field, impacting history, archaeology, anthropology, and linguistics. It is a blueprint for studies in other populations and a benchmark for understanding natural genetic variation in human populations, crucial for disease studies. In other work he has revolutionised the study of immune-system genes, particularly those crucial to the body’s mechanism for detecting ‘self’ (one’s own tissues) from ‘non-self’ (such as viruses and bacteria), by enabling these genes to be included in large studies for the first time. This work has led to important discoveries associating these genes to serious diseases.

The Moran Medal recognises the contribution to science and outstanding research in the fields of applied probability, biometrics, mathematical genetics, psychometrics and statistics. The award is normally made every two years for research carried out mainly in Australia.