I have been working in the genomics field since 2002, when I helped supervise a final year project on characterizing codon usage patterns in the first complete microbe genomes. The student in question, Shaun Mahony, went on to be subsequently awarded the first bioinformatics Doctorate at NUI Galway, and now runs his own successful lab at Penn State University in the United States.
The work pioneered by Shaun has formed the basis for many of my subsequent research activities, essentially one of discerning patterns or clusters within complex and high dimensional ‘omic’ datasets, and in fully characterizing the nature and meaning of these distinct entities in the biological context under scrutiny. This blends mathematical methods and computational techniques applied to specific problems in the life sciences.
Between 2011 and 2016 I was fortunate to be Senior Faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Genetics Department, as well as at the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Yeshiva University, both located in New York City. This time gave me a unique opportunity to participate in cutting edge clinical and basic research projects, ranging from therapeutics (e.g. understanding the role of phytoalexins in mitochondrial function), diagnostics (e.g. robust identification of HPV insertion sites in tissue biopsies) and systems level analysis of complex biomedical datasets (e.g. discerning changes in microbial derived metabolites in blood plasma as a consequence of radiation exposure).
My group also supported the development of genomics support resources for the International 22q11.2 Brain Behavior Consortium http://22q11-ibbc.org/, which aims to integrate clinical information on neurological conditions with whole genome sequencing of 1000 individuals possessing 22q11 Deletion Syndrome.
Back at NUI Galway I am interested in the functional genomics of human endogenous retroviruses particularly in a disease context, as well as exploring the means in which genomics can be used to optimise radiotherapy delivery to cancer patients. Outside of my teaching duties for our ‘in house’ M.Sc. programmes in Biomedical Genomics and Computational Genomics, I am involved in contributing radiobiological expertise to the University’s very successful M.Sc. in Medical Physics, that is run in cooperation between colleagues in the School of Physics, and clinicians in Galway University Hospital.