Lecturer in Biological Informatics
The University of Oxford (1991-1999) [Keble and Linacre Colleges]
Bachelors and Masters degrees in Biochemistry and a Doctoral degree in Genetics
University of Edinburgh & Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS)
I am a Lecturer in Biological Informatics and lead a Neuroscience focused research group in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
Favourite thing to do in my job: In recent years I’ve been doing a lot of analysis looking at how proteins interact with each other which we can represent as a very cool looking “wiring diagram” (like the one on the home page to the Bioinformatics Zone). This “interaction network” can tell us a lot about the kinds of biological processes that are important in that system. If you’d like to know more you could always ask me…..
I use computers to study how genes work in the brain; 86 billion cells, 100s of trillions of connections and 24 thousand genes, it’s a big computer.
Here are some of the research questions my group(s) are working on all using Bioinformatics approaches with experimental data coming from labs around the world.
- How are genes and proteins controlled in the brain ?
- What processes are not working properly in brain diseases such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia ?
- How does the brain encode memory and how do we learn ?
- What can we learn about the function of our brain from studying other (simpler) organisms ?
- How can we use computers to simulate brain function to help the drug discovery process ?
- How can we deal with so much data !?
My Typical Day
A typical day would be a mix of meetings with collaborators, PhD and MSc. students, grant and paper reading and writing and coding/analysis on the computer.
What I'd do with the prize money
I’d use the money to buy some kit to take into local schools to demonstrate coding in use (for example some Raspberry Pi machines)
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
biologist, techie, enthusiast
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
In terms of scientific achievements, successfully engineering a very complex transgenic mouse is up there, but I think I view helping to develop younger scientists in my research group as being the best (and most satisfying).
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Lots of things and people, but a big one was a book borrowed from the local library aged 16, “Genes” by Benjamin Lewin.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Difficult, a split between Biology, Pure Maths and History
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I’ve always loved studying history, so a Historian.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Body-boarding with the kids on the isle of Islay last Summer.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Pretty content really. Would wish health, happiness and success to all my family and friends.
Tell us a joke.
Why did the Cyclops give up being a teacher ? Because he only had one pupil ;)