Addressing authentication and authorisation needs of the life science research community

Mr John Scullen1

1Australian Access Federation, Brisbane, Australia


The Australian BioCommons aim to assemble digital infrastructure to support the diverse research interests of 30,000 Australian life science researchers. This infrastructure must accommodate diversity across experience levels, research areas, regulations, and stakeholders while presenting a coherent set of services contributed by multiple infrastructure partners.

This presentation will focus on methods to streamline authentication for this community.


The Australian BioCommons has partnered with the Australian Access Federation to explore authentication solutions to these challenging research problems. Drawing on successful international deployments, the project is assembling an authentication solution based on the AARC Blueprint Architecture to integrate multiple authentication sources (federations, X.509, social identities) to provide consistent access mechanisms to web and command line tools supporting life science research.


The AARC Blueprint Architecture was created as a collaborative effort between research communities around the world as a way to define a consistent, interoperable approach to supporting the authentication and authorisation needs of research communities. While this project is still in the early stages the architecture has been successfully applied by research collaborations including Elixir, NIH, LIGO and Australia’s Murchison Widefield Array telescope.


This project targets life science research needs but many requirements are common to all research communities. The BioCommons work will help validate processes and technologies such as access control group management and federated authentication to command line tools. The AAF plans to use the initial deployment as a launchpad for a capability that addresses the common needs of Australian research communities.


John joined the Australian Access Federation in 2016 to lead a project to create new processes and tools including AAF’s first cloud platform. His role has since expanded to oversee the AAF’s project portfolio and managed service offerings.

With 25 years’ experience in the higher education and research sector, John has a strong track record of successfully delivering large, complex projects and in developing innovative approaches to business and  technology solutions.

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