Work decoding human genome wins PM’s Prize for Science

20 October 2017
Professor Jian Yang ... it's the second year in a row that a UQ researcher has won the Frank Fenner Prize

A University of Queensland scientist whose pioneering work has helped unravel the complexity of the human genome and genetic traits has won a 2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. 

Professor Jian Yang, from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) and Queensland Brain Institute(QBI), was awarded the Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year tonight at Parliament House.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said it was the second year in a row that a UQ scientist had won the award, with Professor Kerrie Wilson taking the honour in 2016 for her work on the value of ecosystems and the most effective ways to protect them.

“Professor Yang had made paradigm-shifting contributions to the study of human genetics through developing new methods for identifying the genetic factors underlying complex diseases,” Professor Høj said.

“Professor Yang’s work is opening the way for us to better understand the basis of disease, which allows the development of new drugs and treatments, and improved prediction of who is at risk from genomic disease.

“While some diseases such as haemophilia are caused by a change to only one or two genes, most conditions are far more complex.

“They involve large numbers of changes across the genome that individually have little effect but together with environmental factors can cause a devastating disease.

IMB Director Professor Brandon Wainwright said Professor Yang’s new statistical method had allowed him to demonstrate that the variation in conditions including obesity, cognitive ability and schizophrenia were due to the contribution of a large number of genetic variants across the whole human genome.

“His work has launched a new era of genomic analysis through the techniques he has developed and shared with the international research community, with thousands of geneticists around the world using his software,” Professor Brandon said.

Professor Yang received his degree in biological science and his PhD in statistical genetics from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, west of Shanghai in China, before moving to Australia in 2008 and joining UQ in 2012.

The Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year is awarded in honour of Professor Frank Fenner AC, an Australian researcher who played a key role in the worldwide eradication of smallpox and also directed the effort to reduce the country’s rabbit population using the myxoma virus.


解密人类复杂疾病基因 – 昆士兰大学教授荣膺总理科学奖

澳大利亚昆士兰大学杨剑教授对揭开人类复杂疾病的遗传特征做出重大的开创性贡献,并因此荣获了2017年度总理科学奖 (The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science)Frank Fenner年度生命科学家奖(Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year)。

杨剑教授现就任于昆士兰大学分子生物学研究所(IMB)及昆士兰州脑科学研究所(QBI)。在国会大厦举行的晚宴上,他接受了澳大利亚政府颁发的Frank Fenner年度生命科学家奖。

 “杨剑教授通过研发针对识别复杂疾病潜在遗传因素的创新方法,为人类遗传学的研究提供了颠覆式的转变,为我们进一步了解疾病根源开辟了崭新道路。他的研究成果对于新型药物的开发、个性化医疗 以及疾病风险的基因组预测有着重要的促进作用。”昆士兰大学校长Peter Høj教授如是说道。“虽然一些罕见的疾病如血友病之只是由一两个基因突变引起的,但大多数的常见疾病的遗传因素往往更复杂,并且涉及基因图谱的大量基因改变。这些基因单独的改变看似影响甚微,但它们的总体效应以及与环境等因素的结合可能导致灾难性的结果。”

昆士兰大学分子生物学研究所所长Brandon Wainwright教授补充道:“杨剑教授的全新统计遗传学研究方法已经证实,包括肥胖和精神分裂症在内的常见疾病大多是由人类基因图谱中大量的基因改变所导致的。他的研究发现以及新型技术开创了基因组分析的新纪元,他的方法已经被国际上数以千计的遗传学者使用。”


针对杰出生物学家所设立的Frank Fenner年度生命科学家奖(Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year)是为了纪念Frank Fenner教授,他是澳大利亚著名的微生物教授,其主要成就是在全球范围内消灭了天花病毒和用粘液瘤病毒控制澳大利亚野兔成灾的问题。

昆士兰大学校长Peter Høj表示,这是昆大的科学家第二年获此殊荣。2016年,昆大教授Kerrie Wilson因其对保护生态系统的重要研究也荣获了该奖项。

Media: IMB Communications,, +61 (0) 418 575 247, +61 (0) 7 3346 2134; QBI Communications,, +61 (0) 405 661 856, +61 (0) 7 3346 6419.