Grey Court School, Sevenoaks School (6th form), University of Sunderland and University of Manchester.
BSc (Hons) Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science, PhD Medicinal Chemistry
Manchester and Dundee
I’m a Senior Bioinformatician
Every living creature has a genome made up of DNA. DNA is made up nucleotide bases which we represent with the letters A, C, G and T. Different creature have different lengths and sequences of these letters usually called chromosomes. Humans have 23 chromosomes and 3 billion letters.
Individuals of the same animal have very similar, but not identical genomes. The differences in the genomes from different people are what make us slightly different from other: brown eyes versus green, different heights, etc. Sometimes the differences also make us more likely to get a certain disease e.g. cystic fibrosis, breast cancer, Huntington disease. By analysing these differences in people with certain conditions we can work out what effect these changes have to the normal functioning of the body and eventually find ways of treating or even curing the diseases.
My Typical Day:
Writing programs, discussing scientific problems with colleagues, talking about my data and results.
I work on quite a variety of projects. The advantage of being a computational biologist is that you are quite in demand from other scientists. I spend much of my time with other scientists planning experiments, analysing data or preparing to publish results.
Scientists who work in the lab are now capable of generating so much more data from their experiments than they are able to handle on their own. They need help from people who can ‘crunch the data’ into something manageable i.e. computational biologists. This kind of help is called collaboration and is a cornerstone of science: if there is something you want to do, but can’t do it yourself, you find someone who is willing to work with you and collaborate with them.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I will probably use it to help make improvements to the GenomeScroller project I’m involved in.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Determined, inquisitive, not-too-serious (I know that’s a cheat)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Of course. Nothing serious, but had a few detentions.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Prince, although I mostly listen to dance music. I know that doesn’t make sense.
What's your favourite food?
Steak (well done of course) and chips
Tell us a joke.
Q. What’s brown and sticky? A. A stick