Meet the Scientists
Our Royal Society Working Group brings together researchers working in the Radcliffe Department of Medicine and Goldsmiths, University of London.
Academic Project Manager
Dr Damien Downes is a postdoctoral researcher working at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford. Damien completed his undergraduate degree in Australia at the University of Melbourne, before moving to America to carry out his PhD studies in fungal genetics at Kansas State University. Upon completion of his PhD, Damien moved to Oxford and shifted the focus of his research to human genetics. Damien studies how genes are switched on and off in cells and uses cutting-edge genetic techniques to understand how this so-called “gene regulation” impacts upon health and disease.
Steve Taylor is the Head of the Computational Biology Research Group at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. He has worked at Oxford for over 13 years and his team help scientists design and analyse biological experiments using cutting edge computational techniques. He is especially interested in visualisation and providing easy to use tools to help scientists look at large, complex data sets which is why he is so excited about looking at the genome in 3D using CSynth. He is also a co-founder of Zegami – a visual analytics platform to search and analyse "big data" collections.
Frederic is based at the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has interests in 3D shape representation in computer vision and perception, computational geometry, architectural information systems, information visualisation and arts computing in general.
William Latham works in the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a designer of computer games, a computer artist and entrepreneur. He has expertise in evolutionary art, graphics, generative art, genetics, and the entertainment and video games industries.
Stephen started working at Goldsmiths in 2006, working on the Mutator 2 project with William Latham. This project married the earlier Mutator and FormGrow concepts with input from the analysis of DNA, resulting in the film for Siggraph 2007.
This collaboration has expanded also into biological visualization (FoldSynth and BioBlox projects) with Imperial College and Oxford University. The most visible current work is with the Organic Art 2 software used in many international exhibitions; once again with William Latham.
Peter studied Sonic Art at Middlesex and has a continuing interest in the design of novel tools for design, composition and performance of experimental music, sound art and data sonification. Peter is a developer a Goldsmiths, University of London.
Volunteer Recruitment and Training
Nicki is a bioinformatician working for the Computational Biology Research Group in the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. As part of the core group her work involves analysing Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) data for researchers in the WIMM. She also organises and teaches the Bioinformatics Courses available to all staff in the WIMM and Ludwig Institute, Oxford.
Matt is a member of Prof Jim Hughes group in the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, working in the field of genomic regulation to link SNPs and structural variants to diseases. The group uses Next Generation Sequencing to characterise the genomes of multiple cell types, using techniques such as ATAC-seq and Chromosome Conformation Capture based technologies. His current projects involve looking at genome wide chromosome interactions and also using a new platform to search for structural variants in samples.
I am a Research Assistant with Prof Jim Hughes at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine investigating how gene regulation causes disease such as Anaemia. A previous study identified a range of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that I am investigating as potential contributors to Anaemia. I am primarily using Next Generation Sequencing and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to investigate and characterise the changes the SNPs introduce in early red blood cells.
Lea works in the field of Disease Gene Regulation as a member of Prof Jim Hughes' group in the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. I am aiming to link specific mutations in the genome to diseases such as anaemia. To this end, I am using genome editing to model these mutations in human cell lines to find out whether they are causal in the development of anaemia.
Caroline works with Prof Veronica Buckle at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, studying unexplained anaemia. Using cultured erythroblasts from patients we can determine how normal erythropoiesis occurs and at what stage things go wrong. I have shown that we can recapitulate many erythroid disorders using this model system and further generate a source of cells for characterisation using as RNA-seq, ATAC-seq, FACS and ChIP.
Antje is a first year DPhil student at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, supervised by Prof Anna Gloyn and Daniel Ebner. She is working on identifying genes mediating type 2 diabetes risk at genome-wide association studies loci using high throughput methodologies in human beta-cell models to simultaneously genetically manipulate hundreds of genes followed by characterisation of the impact of loss of their function on insulin secretion.
Stand design and literature
Jill works as a research assistant in the Prof Veronica Buckle at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. The group focuses on trying to understand how three dimensional genome organisation influences gene function and how this may be affected in disease.
Caz is a DPhil student on the Wellcome Trust Genomic Medicine and Statistics Doctoral Training Centre Programme. She is working under the supervision of Prof Jim Hughes and Prof Doug Higgs on three-dimensional genome structure. Specifically, I’m interested in the role of the DNA-binding protein CTCF in nuclear compartmentalisation during gene regulation.
Chris' background is in developmental biology and human genetics and he currently works with Prof Veronica Buckle at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. He is interested in discovering novel genetic causes of anaemia and better understanding the pathology of these conditions and is currently making disease models using immortalised blood progenitors and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing. Chris also has an interest understanding regulation of expression of the embryonic alpha-globin gene HBZ with the aim of reactivating its expression in adults to ameliorate the symptoms of severe alpha-thassemia. Chris also works on a collaborative project to visualise chromatin dynamics during gene expression in live cells.
The Working Group are supported by Emma O'Brien, Public Engagement and Communications Officer for the Radcliffe Department of Medicine.