Veterinary and Animal Research Data Commons

Australia's seven veterinary schools have again come together, this time to build a new platform, the Veterinary and Animal Research Data Commons (VARDC). This is thanks to the excellent support of the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) who are funding the project through their Platforms program. 

Building on the work of VCA, VARDC will deliver big-data opportunities to Australian veterinary and animal science researchers allowing them to mesh clinical data on individual animals with related data, such as pathology reports. This will transform the VCA platform so that researchers have a single point-of-access [Sustainable Platform] to multiple, related systems. It will deliver a framework that shows researchers how to design studies and request data [The Virtual Lab] with optimised access to the data and data cleaning. It will facilitate collaboration with Australia’s leading veterinary pathology providers [Ingestion of Path Reports] and prepare VCA to work with the Australian Imaging Service (AIS) to host images alongside clinical data [Integrations]. Researchers will be able to access clinical and pathology data from a single platform and use machine learning approaches to develop future artificial intelligence-based diagnostic tools.



Project partners

Associate Professor Navneet Dhand, University of Sydney

Associate Professor in Veterinary Biostatistics and Epidemiology

Director, Asia Pacific Consortium of Veterinary Epidemiology (APCOVE)

Associate Professor Navneet Dhand is a veterinary epidemiologist with extensive experience in leading epidemiologic research. He has a strong interest in disease surveillance and has led several projects for developing innovative and cost-effective approaches for surveillance of infectious diseases. He was named Research Leader in Veterinary Medicine by The Australian in 2020 for receiving the highest number of citations for papers published in top 20 journals in his field in five years. He is also a founder/developer of platform with several free online data analytics tools that have attracted >225,000 users from >200 countries and have been cited in >200 publications in the past six years.

Professor Timothy Baldwin, University of Melbourne

Melbourne Laureate Professor

Director of the ARC Centre in Cognitive Computing for Medical Technologies

School of Computing and Information Systems

Professor Timothy Baldwin is a Melbourne Laureate Professor in the School of Computing and Information Systems, The University of Melbourne, Director of the ARC Training Centre in Cognitive Computing for Medical Technologies, and Associate Dean Research Training in the Melbourne School of Engineering. He was an ARC Future Fellow from 2013 to 2016 and has previously held visiting positions at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Cambridge University, the University of Washington, University of Tokyo, Saarland University, and NTT Communication Science Laboratories. His research interests include text mining of social media, deep learning, computational lexical semantics, information extraction, and web mining. 

Dr Martin Combs, Charles Sturt University

Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine

Dr Martin Combs has worked at the CSU Small Animal Referral Hospital since it opened in 2010 and is currently a Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine. He has a passionate interest in small animal medicine and teaching and joined CSU to expand these interests. Martin has a broad range of research interests including in small animal general practice, in neurophysiology/pathology and toxicology and for his PhD investigated neurotoxins and potential therapies.

Dr Brian Hur, University of Melbourne

Researcher in Applied Natural Language Processing/Machine Learning, Clinical Informatics and Veterinary Epidemiology

Dr Brian Hur is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne doing a joint PhD in the fields of Natural Language Processing and Veterinary Epidemiology. His research interests fall within the fields of Natural Language Processing, Clinical Informatics and Machine Learning. He is more specifically interested in exploiting structured and unstructured data to help machines understand the treatments given, the reasons behind them and using this data to help inform Antimicrobial Stewardship Programs in Australia to combat Antibiotic Resistance.

Associate Professor Pete Irons, Murdoch University

Veterinary Program Director

Associate Professor Pete Irons is a South African-born and trained veterinarian and specialist in veterinary reproduction. He spent most of his career at the University of Pretoria, with brief stints in practice in the UK and South Africa and in academia in the USA. His current role is mainly in administration of the veterinary program, involving oversight of curriculum delivery and development, student and international affairs.

Professor Mark Krockenberger, University of Sydney

Professor of Veterinary Pathology

Associate Head of Veterinary Clinical Sciences

Registered Specialist Veterinary Pathologist 

Professor Mark Krockenberger’s primary research focus is the investigation of infectious diseases, particularly cryptococcosis and particularly of koalas and wildlife. As a specialist veterinary pathologist he is also heavily engaged in collaborative research on infectious and non-infectious disease of domestic animals. As part of this he provides diagnostic pathology and pathology research support for the University Veterinary Teaching Hospitals and the private veterinary profession. Comparative pathology as the basis for One Health, and a component of planetary health, are key philosophies underpinning his research.

Associate Professor Ricardo Magalhães, University of Queensland

Associate Professor of Population Health and Biosecurity 

Associate Professor Ricardo J. Soares Magalhães is Associate Professor of Population Health and Biosecurity and Program Director, of the Master of Veterinary Science. Dr Soares Magalhães is Head, UQ Spatial Epidemiology Laboratory and a European Specialist in Population Medicine with extensive research experience in three main areas: spatial epidemiology of zoonotic infections, outbreak response for emerging infectious diseases and animal’s environmental health/biosecurity. A key focus of his current research is to understand the geographical risk and environmental drivers of major zoonotic diseases of humans in order to improve surveillance and risk management, with consequent reductions in their burden in human and animal populations (“geo-One Health”).

Professor Caroline Mansfield, University of Melbourne

Director of Clinical Research

Professor Caroline Mansfield is a registered specialist in small animal medicine and is recognised as an international leader in veterinary internal medicine, as evidenced by frequent invitations to present at international conferences, requests to provide expert opinions and current and previous roles in the profession. She is currently Director of Clinical Research at Melbourne Veterinary School, University of Melbourne. Her research group is focused on the interaction of the gut microbiome in health and disease of dogs and cats, and the role diet and environment play in this. She also researches in areas of clinical gastroenterology that can result in tangible improvement in the health and welfare of our pets.

Sophie Masters, University of Sydney

Project Manager

Sophie Masters is a Project Manager in the Sydney School of Veterinary Science. She has over twenty years of experience managing projects and programmes. In addition to VARDC, Sophie is also currently working on VetCompass Australia, a related national veterinary research project that will increase our understanding of the common disorders and treatments of dogs, cats and horses.

Associate Professor Anne Peaston, University of Adelaide

Senior Lecturer - Small Animal Medicine

School of Animal and Veterinary Science

Associate Professor Anne Peaston is a veterinary scientist with long-standing interests in the biology of cancer, using rodent models to investigate basic cell and molecular biology aspects. Since her appointment to the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences 8 years ago, she has applied this interest to clinical veterinary oncology research and in the last 3 years has discontinued work with rodent models. Her interests are broad, and include for example the molecular underpinnings of feline-specific insecticide sensitivity, chemotherapy for canine osteosarcoma, comparative molecular features of mast cell neoplasia in animals, and inherited blood disorders of dogs. Developing a reliable evidence base for the practise of veterinary medicine depends in part on accurate knowledge of the epidemiology of inherited and acquired conditions affecting the animal population. 

Associate Professor Richard Squires, James Cook University

Associate Professor, Companion Animal Medicine

College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences 

Associate Professor Richard Squires leads the veterinary clinical sciences team at James Cook University in Townsville, northern Australia. 

Richard graduated as a veterinarian from Bristol University in 1982.  After a short spell in general practice he obtained postgraduate clinical training at the Universities of Cambridge and Pennsylvania and research training at Glasgow. His PhD was awarded for research in which he sought a retroviral aetiology for canine lymphoma.  He is a Diplomate of both the American and European Colleges of Veterinary Internal Medicine and he holds the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Diploma of Veterinary Radiology. Throughout much of his career, Richard has taught and assessed veterinary students in small animal internal medicine. Most of his research has been on canine and feline infectious diseases. In addition, for five years in New Zealand, Richard taught and carried out research in veterinary virology.

Dr Ryan Sullivan, University of Sydney

Product Specialist – Characterization

As the Product Specialist for Characterization research at the University of Sydney, Ryan oversees the creation of cutting-edge, enterprise grade, research data management, analysis, and informatics infrastructure. Embedded within the Core Research Facilities Ops team, Ryan works with his local facilities and their NCRIS characterization partners (MA, NIF, ANSTO, ANFF) to align national strategy and platform to improve research outcomes. He has a strong focus on imaging and healthcare applications, preserving patient privacy while enabling translation.


For more information:

Veterinary and Animal Research Data Commons (VARDC)