Brief CV


Since 2001 I have been Head of Bioinformatics at the MRC Human Genetics Unit (HGU), one of the largest UK MRC research establishments. I am also Professor of Computational Biology at the Institute of Genetics and Cancer (IGC), University of Edinburgh. My group provides computational collaborative expertise to IGC clinical and experimental research groups, and also large research consortia such as the Scottish Genomes Partnership and the FANTOM projects. I am a committee member of the Genetics Society, the EpiGeneSys EU-wide network of excellence in epigenetics and systems biology, various MRC review panels and journal editorial boards. My PhD was in population genetics at the University of Edinburgh (1994), followed by postdoctoral stints at the University of Michigan and Trinity College Dublin exploring the first genome sequences derived from yeast and worms. In 1998 I joined the MRC Human Genetics Unit, studying the initial human genome sequence to understand human disease predisposition. These interests have continued to the present, with a current focus on gene regulation and structural variation in cancers and developmental disorders.

I lead a MRC research programme at HGU, studying mutational processes in two contexts: in the germline and early embryo, where mutation can disrupt developmental expression patterns, and in tumours, where complex mutational patterns drive tumourigenesis and cancer patient outcomes. We pursue aims, linking mutation to gene regulation and disease, motivated by three questions. What are the origins and impact of mutations in development? How does structural complexity drive tumour evolution? What is the predictive value of combinatorial genomic biomarkers in cancer?

Present position:

Head of Bioinformatics, IGC; MRC HGU Programme Leader; Professor of Computational Biology

University of Edinburgh, UK


I run a laboratory carrying out novel research in computational genomics and human disease. Our research activities span genomics, transcriptomics and epigenomics, to understand the underlying basis of human and model organism phenotypes. We are particularly interested in the evolution of gene regulation in the human genome and the disruptions to genome function in human diseases such as cancers. In addition I head the institute Bioinformatics Core providing education, advice and collaborative expertise to all current research programs.

Postdoctoral work:

Staff Bioinformaticist

MRC Human Genetics Unit, UK


Collaborative sequence analysis developing custom solutions for a wide variety of groups involved in everything from yeast cell biology to human genetic disease susceptibility, including the first demonstration of a rare human translocation causing psychiatric disease.

EU funded postdoctoral research fellow

Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


Investigation of the extent and patterns of gene duplication and gene conversion in the first releases of whole genome sequence data from C. elegans.

NIH funded postdoctoral research fellow

University of Michigan, USA


Empirical investigations of the evolution and maintenance of structural polymorphisms spontaneously arising in large, monoclonal microbial populations.

Thesis work:

PhD in population genetics

University of Edinburgh, UK


Experiments examining mechanisms underlying the maintenance of inversion polymorphisms using large populations of D. melanogaster and computer simulation.